Photo Post: GDC 2008: Independent Games Festival

We had a great time participating in the IGF this year with The Path! Even though we didn’t get the prize, seeing so many people play the demo every day taught us a lot about what is going right with the game as well as what is going wrong (-.-)! Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth. We got so much excellent feedback, along very sore feet and hoarseness from talking so much, but we are looking forward to (hopefully) doing it all again next year!

2008-02-22 at 15-27-13

photos here and some videos here:

Play The Path at GDC!

We will be in San Francisco next week, attending the Game Developers Conference. A playable demo of The Path will be available from Wednesday to Friday at the Independent Games Festival pavilion in the expo (North Hall 5138). The IGF award ceremony is on Wednesday evening. The Path is nominated in the “Excellence in Visual Art” category. Fingers crossed!

If you find yourself at the conference, be sure to come and say hello! :)

For those who stay at home, here’s some work-in-progress gameplay footage to tide you over:

High Definition video is available here.

No future for games?

I very much enjoyed reading Steve Gaynor’s insightful article about the future of games. There’s a lot of good points in the article, so I recommend reading the whole bit as any kind of summary would not do it credit. His main point is that

video games will never become a significant form of cultural discourse the way that novels and film have

I find it interesting that he isn’t talking about the medium as an art form but simply as something with cultural relevance, be it good or bad quality, high or low brow. The main obstacles for games, according the Mr. Gaynor, are high barriers to access and a certain attitude within the industry to continuously cater to the same incrowd. He likens this situation with that of comic strips which, despite of having produced several master pieces, are still by and large regarded as juvenile.

The one thing that I think Mr. Gaynor is overlooking is that the new medium that he is talking about, is not “games” as such but a much wider field of interactive entertainment. Games are a subset of the interactive medium. Almost as much a genre as action movies are a genre of cinema (and perhaps even comic strips a genre of literature).

Games have been around for millenia. They are neither new nor are they a medium. They have their place in society but they have never had a cultural impact like architecture, painting, music, literature or movies. The mere fact that games are made with and enjoyed through computers will not change this.
Games are not what is interesting and new about this medium! What it is exactly, we haven’t quite figured out yet. But we’re working on it. Some of this work is done within the games industry. Some of it outside of the games industry.

Ico: early steps towards excellence in a new medium?

I share Mr. Gaynor’s pessimism about games ever becoming widely culturally relevant. In fact, I don’t find this pessimistic at all. It would worry me to no end if the human race would suddenly start playing games en masse. But I don’t believe his pessimism applies to the entire interactive medium. The small group of games that do reach further, may very well be the first steps into a much more accessible and widely relevant interactive medium. But that medium will probably not be called “games”.

Unless, perhaps, some smart business people in the games industry follow Mr Gaynor’s advice:

Who do you want to be backing further down the line: an insular, stunted medium like comics, or a full-grown, culturally-relevant, and hey, PROFITABLE, medium like film? We aren’t going to reach that point by catering to the current hardcore. And we’re not doing ourselves any good by assaulting the casual gamer with the deluge of crap that’s been thrown at the Wii audience so far. We’re going to expand our customer base by trying to give them new, subtle, interesting approaches to interactive experiences that are universal and human.

Speaking at Gamezone

We will be speaking at the Gamezone festival in deSingel in Antwerp tomorrow, Friday, at 3 pm. We’ll talk about about our “design philosophy” and about The Path. The Endless Forest is also on display at the event. Other speakers include Kristof Van Den Branden, Stijn Bolle and Alexis Nolent. More info here.

Interview on

There’s a little interview with us on as part of an article about IGF finalists (featuring, next to The Path, Audiosurf, Battleships Forever, Clean Asia! and Noitu Love 2: Devolution).

We have always liked working with old texts (mythologies, legends, religious texts, folklore, etc), even before we were making games. Fairy tales are fascinating in particular because they come from an oral history. We like to think that digital connectedness is very similar to that pre-print society. It’s not so much about the truth of story but about the way it is being told and experienced by every person differently.


Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of lent (or “vasten” -“fast”), a period of modesty and meditation, leading up to the return of the light. Probably simply a translation to religious terms of the hardship of winter. It gives a noble significance to the meager foods on the table during this period.


On Ash Wednesday, when I was young and attended catholic schools, we went to church. The priest would put some ashes on his thumb and then draw a little cross on our foreheads. Saying that we should remember that we are made of dust and ashes and will return to dust and ashes.

So we ran around all day in school trying to keep the ashes on as long as possible. We didn’t “remember” much of anything, as kids.

It makes sense to think about death when nature is cold and silent. In our modern age when there is never a shortage of anything, really, we have lost an appreciation of the natural cycles (of which we are still a part with our mortal bodies). Religion reconciled humans with nature. But now we’re disconnected from nature. Or at least we pretend we are.

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Images borrowed from Elevated and Jesterry.

Carnival in The Forest

At the occasion of the Jeugdfilmfestival, which opens today, two special deer will make their appearance in The Endless Forest. One is controlled by visitors of the festival in Bruges and one controlled by visitors in Antwerp.

To celebrate carnival, we’re having a special Mardi Gras ABIOGENESIS in The Endless Forest next Tuesday at 5 pm, Belgian time. All deer are invited in carnival outfits, designed by the players and modeled by students at Howest college!