Part of me thinks I shouldn't even write about Indiecade: it's something that should be jealously protected from all the evil in the world. Its "independence" doesn't refer to the substantial indie attendance; it refers to how differently it does things, standing apart from the giant game conventions I've been to:
- It's for the public. The "village" consumes the better half of the Culver Hotel parking lot / plaza, and you have a constant stream of random people strolling in. The finalist arcade is inside a firehouse. Various panels and talks are in random auditoriums / civic institutions. This is a festival that's actually interfacing with a city and takes pride in what a city is, while other conventions are so huge they isolate themselves in compounds far from city centers.
- Real access to people. Want to talk to Jonathan Blow? Well, he's sitting on that bench over there. All those darlings you follow on Twitter? Over there, getting a beer. Los Angeles' lack of effective public transit means that people generally stay around the festival area and it's easier to find / meet people, ironically.
- Really good cookies. Damn, those were good cookies.
- Real engagement. There was a talk about queer games and people asked critically interesting questions: What, structurally, is a queer game? Is identity politics a distraction from more pressing issues like the indie-industry relationship? Across the entire festival, there were very few stupid questions, very little noise about "that's not a game" or "this genre is better than that genre" -- work was approached on its own merits.
- It's not really about business. I mean, business totally took place -- Sony is a major sponsor and is definitely the most indie-friendly publisher I've seen -- so it's there if you look for it, but otherwise you'll never drown in it, which is really nice.