Showcasing Indie Game Designers at Seattle’s EMP

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Indie Game Revolution

Seattle’s EMP Museum is sponsoring “Indie Game Revolution,” an exciting exhibit exploring the role that indie game designers are having on today’s video game landscape. Video games are a cultural and entertainment powerhouse that capture the imaginations of younger consumers and older veteran players alike. But the importance of video games aren’t just driven by their sales; the creative side of video game development stands to impact the broader world of entertainment design. Particularly as the quality and interactivity of digital video game experiences improve, there are fewer mediums that push the boundaries of creativity and immersion as far. Beyond the big name studios in the space, there’s a whole realm of independent designers doing some of the industry’s most innovative work.

The EMP set out to create an exhibit that went beyond just digital video screens. Instead, they wanted to bring the video game design concepts into the physical world of the exhibit. As they describe, “There are just over 3,000 cubes in the main gallery feature— all in sizes 6”x6”x6” and 12”x12”x12” and 18”x18”x18”. The effect of this cubed sculpture, which threads through the entire exhibit, is to transport visitors into a pixelated world of wonder and play. With twenty worlds to explore, the sky’s the limit on what you’ll discover inside this virtual playground!” The goal of the exhibit was to physically engage guests into playing and experiencing the games firsthand.

Seattle's EMP Museum

The exhibit has been described as having the feel of a secret control room. Each of the featured games – often chosen for their rarity, beautiful graphics, or innovative gameplay – can be played by guests. The inspiration for the exhibit came from the success of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that featured video game art and looked at some of the industry’s most successful past products. But the EMP decided to flip the concept on its head and focus on looking forward. They asked the question: where is the most innovation happening right now? What are the most exciting recent developments? Indie Game Revolution takes on the state of the industry as it’s unfolding.

The actual games that are showcased rotate every few months and most of the games have been recently released. Setting recency as a criteria was a smart idea. Video game fans are likely to come back more than once to see what’s brewing in the industry and get the chance to play different games. The hands-on nature of the exhibit pulls in existing fans, as well as a more general audience that would like to explore.

Indie Game Player at Seattle's EMP Museum

The entertainment design space is often dominated by big names, or by conglomerations of smaller players under the umbrella of bigger projects. It makes sense, as investment drives the talent focus to new attractions and major projects. But some of the most interesting and inventive work is being done by indie artists and designers. Shining a light on their work and talent – across industries – can help raise awareness of their creativity and help expand the scope of work that the public and fans are exposed to. We hope to see more examples of exhibits and venues to explore the work of independent artists throughout the entertainment design world.

Images sourced courtesy of Seattle EMP

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