This year GameCity – the UK’s biggest indie games festival – will be running for a mammoth 7 days, from 20th-27th October. Now entering its 7th year, the GameCity team have already announced some of the attractions for this year’s festival with a full lineup to follow in the run-up to the Nottingham event, but here are 7 things I’d personally love to see (some more likely than others).
1. Charlie Brooker to Judge the GameCity Prize
The desire of festival fans to see self-proclaimed gamer Charlie Brooker sit on the GameCity Prize judging panel has been knocking round the Twittersphere since last year’s festival, and since this year’s judges are still closely under wraps it remains a tantalising possibility.
The jury for last year’s inaugural GameCity Prize was drawn from a broad spectrum of figures outside of the game industry itself – ranging from musician Nitin Sawhney to Labour politician Tom Watson – and included writer and comedian Charlie Higson, who also featured in the festival’s Halloween-themed Fear Friday takeover day where he performed a reading from his horror novel The Fear. If the other Charlie makes it onto the jury there’s definite scope for a Gameswipe-style Brooker-centric strand during the festival itself.
2. Playable Demo of Jonathan Blow’s “The Witness”
This is one of the more unlikely things I’d like to see considering the latest project by Braid creator Jonathan Blow has been in development for the last three years, with a single surprise occurrence at PAX 2010 being the only time a playable demo of the puzzle-based game has surfaced to date.
However, GameCity 6 scored a fantastic coup last year with the first hands-on demo in Europe for indie sensation Fez, so anything’s possible.
3: Pokemon Takeover Day
Last year GameCity celebrated the Legend of Zelda’s 25th birthday with a Zelda takeover day, and the ever-popular Pokemon series would make a fantastic theme for this year’s takeover – the risk of turning the festival into a furrie convention notwithstanding, it’ll also coincide with the release of Pokemon Black & White 2 this autumn.
Just as the Market Square was transformed into a Hyrulian marketplace at GameCity 6, imagine a Kanto-style village equipped with playable versions of the myriad handheld RPGs and console-based spin-offs the series has produced over the years, with grown men roaming the grasses of Nottingham in adult-sized Pikachu costumes. Sounds awesome, right?
4: Peter Molydeux Bootcycle
Each year, GameCity invite a gaming luminary to curate a day of the festival. Following last year’s Bootcycle – hosted by Eric Chahi, creator of Another World and the 2011 XBLA title From Dust – this year videogame legend and Lionhead Studios founder Peter Molyneux has been invited to curate a series of events during the festival.
The flipside of Molyneux’s polished AAA games is reflected in the antics of his online doppelganger Peter Molydeux: a fictional creation by an unknown person, who has spent the last few years tweeting bizarre and often brilliant games ideas from the Twitter account @PeterMolydeux. In a thoroughly surreal twist, Molydeux’s online actics have started to affect the real-world indie gaming community, recently inspiring the international “Molyjam” game jam, wherein teams of developers spent a weekend making some of Molydeux’s outrageous game ideas a reality. Producing nearly 300 playable prototypes in under two days and stretching from San Francisco to sunny Brighton, many of these Molydeux-inspired games make for ripe festival fodder, and although it’s unlikely the shadowy Peter Molydeux himself could be coaxed out for the event, the real Peter Molyneux has gotten thoroughly behind the bizarre Molydeux sensation: he even popped up at the London Molyjam event.
5. Robot Costume Pageant
They’ve done zombies: surely it’s time for the robots to get in on the action?
With this year’s festival not falling near enough to Halloween to repeat their zombie costume pageant, how about a nice robot costume competition instead? No, it may not be particularly games related, but with potential fancy dress ideas ranging from retro robots to futuristic cyberdroids, it’s a good way of getting the creative juices flowing. And who wouldn’t love to see an army of clumsily-put-together robots confusing the locals?
6. The Return of GameCity After Dark
Having missed the storming Wild Rumpus nightclub at the tail end of last year’s GameCity, I’d love to see the return of a gaming-themed clubnight to see out the festival.
As well as featuring drink-fuelled party games like the Copenhagen Game Collective’s Johann Sebastian Joust and B.U.T.T.O.N. (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now), the Friday night of GameCity 6 also saw videogame karaoke from the One Life Left radio team and DJ sets from Phil Fish and Richard Lemarchand – I’m looking forward to seeing what the GameCity lot pull out of the bag this year.
7. Indie Game: The Movie Screening
GameCity have teamed up with Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema to bring a stronger focus on films to this year’s festival, following the premier of Kooky at GameCity 6 – a feature-length Czeck animation with production design by Animata Studios’ Jakub Dvorsky (developer on Samorost, Machinarium and the new Botanicula).
With UK screenings for Indie Game: The Movie still to be announced, I’m hoping that it might be one of the films featured at GameCity 7: though it’ll also be interesting to see what other films the organisers manage to score for their programme of video-game inspired cinema.
GameCity 7 will run from 20th-27th October 2012 at various venues around Nottingham. For more details, see the official site here.