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The Best of SoWN Pt. 1: Games as Art

Posted on Monday, September 24 @ 08:30:00 Eastern by Heath_Hindman

Sense of Wonder Night is an awesome event that happens after the second day of the Tokyo Game Show, and gives independent developers a chance to get their games noticed by big media outlets and other developers. With so much of the industry focused purely on profits, the indie scene can at times be a treasure trove of innovation and inspiration. I've never been disappointed with my decision to attend Sense of Wonder Night, and now it's my pleasure to introduce to you the awesome things I saw.

I'll break this up into three categories over as many updates. First, we'll talk about the entries that fall under "Games as Art", as defined by, well, my gut. Click the title to visit the game's official website or closest equivalent. You can also watch the full presentation at the bottom of the page, courtesy of Ustream.


Memory of a Broken Dimension

The presenter typed in commands via the old-style computer command prompt, and the system would take him to various dark and quite frankly scary-looking places. Floating around the stages were pieces of data, which had to be viewed at a certain angle in order to become objects such as ramps. The game seemed to be divided into two parts: entering some DOS-like code in the command prompts, and then navigating these black and white areas. It was inspired by his childhood, growing up and fixing computers, and the game explores the feeling of doing so.

There was nothing to really be scared of in these environments, though. I also wasn't clear on how exactly he was playing. He was either really short on time (his presentation was next to last) or not very good at strutting his stuff. His game looked cool, but I wasn't quite understanding how I would play it, despite my wanting to. Well, the potential for some crazy puzzles and mind-bending gameplay is there, though, and Memory of a Broken Dimension is one piece of indie software to keep your eye on.


Tengami

Tengami looks like a fantastic iPad game to play with your kids, when it's finished next summer. It puts the player in the role of a character in a pop-up book whose story is set in ancient Japan. It's billed as an adventure game, though the presentation focused more on the atmosphere.  Near the end of the demonstration, the team's character was solving a small puzzle to get a key and open a gate, suggesting that there will be more to it than just a story and pop-ups.

The attraction of Tengami is its beautiful artwork, serene setting, and interesting electronic recreation of a pop-up storybook.  An interesting note that the team made was that every single level and structure in Tengami can be made as a papercraft or pop-up book in real life, using only paper, scissors, and glue. It would take a buttload of work, but it's cool to know that making a book in an exact replica of this story/game is possible. Watch for it.


Grandmaster

This is an iOS game with a political message behind all the weirdness and intentionally gross imagery. You could tell they were trying to educate with their game by the fact that they kept mixing homeless statistics in with the description of their game. They were dressed as bums and kind of dancing around celebrating the "sweet life" of being homeless, all while interrupting themselves to drop stats like "There are 50,000 homeless people in Kiev, hey hey!"

Your objective is to dumpster dive, using the touchscreen to swipe garbage out of your way as you dig for food and clothing. Occasionally you'll have to "crush the resistance" by fighting off other bums and "defeat the evil police" to try to give you heck for trying to survive.

To the team I say, "mission accomplished", because I of course went home and Googled "homeless Kiev", and wow, do I feel like a total jerk for having a house. Tangential learning for the win... and loss.



Thanks for reading, and look forward to parts two and three, in which I'll talk about the games that are just good old fashioned fun to play, and games that break into new territory technologically. We saw some crazy stuff that night, and I can't wait to share...though I must, because my time to write all of it is finite. Perhaps a new app next year will fix that.
Tags:   Tokyo Game Show
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