Taking over Nottingham's city centre and laying on a roster of mostly free events over four days, the festival goes way beyond just playing games: previous events have included art exhibitions, director commentaries, playground building, live videogame recreations, gigs, three World Record achievements, arcade trails and club nights - and this year's festival added into the mix film premieres, human games consoles, zombie pageants and molecular gastronomy dining experiences. The festival kicked off on Wednesday with an entire day curated by game design legend and Another World creator Eric Chahi: the above-mentioned molecular gastronomy experience My Dinner With Eric was apparently particularly wonderful, featuring stereoscopic food and other bizarre culinary concoctions. Fittingly, Fear Friday added some Halloween celebrations to the mix, as the festival devoted a day to horror-themed games, books and films. Comedian and zombie horror writer Charlie Higson performed a reading from his new novel The Fear, while screenwriter James Moran and comic book writer Gerard Jones were on hand to reveal their Scare Tactics in a Q&A that touched on Moran's upcoming film Cockneys vs Zombies (yes, I'm also intrigued). The day also featured zombie life drawing and a zombie smartphone game before the impending zombie apocalypse finally arrived in the form of a Zombie Pageant competition. Saturday was dedicated to all things Zelda as GameCity celebrated 25 years of everyone's favourite imperilled princess with the Legend of Zelda Takeover Day. Inside a Hyrulean forest (aka GameCity's main festival tent in Old Market Square) a range of classic and recent Zelda games were available to play, and young Zelda fans were decorating their own Link shields and taking part in an Ocarina Orchestra performance of classic themetunes while older visitors ate Zelda-themed cake and adorned the walls of the tent (I mean forest) with often stunningly realised fan art. The afternoon's Zelda Cosplay Competition and the release of a Zelda fanzine produced especially for the festival highlighted some of the love felt for the series, and almost caused a stampede when it's release at nearby comics shop Page 45 was announced in the main tent. GameCity has developed a reputation as an event that treats videogames as more than a commercial product and which recognises that the people who play them are more than just an esoteric and extrinsic subculture. During the festival, mainstream brands and AAA titles rub shoulders with leftfield indie gems, under-the-radar releases and cooperative games that attendees would be unlikely to have the chance to play outside of a videogame festival or clubnight. While hands-on demos of some of the biggest recent releases were available to play throughout the four days (Battlefield 3, FIFA 2012), the events generating the most excitement amongst attendees were those which offered something radically different to the fare usually on display at such events. Throughout the festival, gamers could take part in one-on-one sessions with the creator of the intricate new perspective-bending platformer Fez, as Polytron co-founder Phil Fish offered to take them through the first public hands-on demo of the game in Europe. http://youtu.be/FrVVIVyLx-Y On Wednesday night, 'Flow' and 'Flower' developers thatgamecompany performed their epic new release Journey in a packed marquee. Enabling online cooperative gameplay in a deeper sense than that engendered in current FPS or MMORPGs, Journey aims to encourage a connection between players through abstract, explorative gameplay. http://youtu.be/PjqAN7apHKM Also on Wednesday, the first playable demo of minimalist platformer Thomas Was Alone was available to play with creator Mike Bithell on hand to iron out any glitches with his prototype: and you can't really get much closer to the creative process of videogame development than that. http://youtu.be/YDaa3Cq6c7M Winner of the Audio award at this year's Indiecade, Proteus was available to play during the Thursday. A unique first-person exploration game featuring a much-lauded reactive ambient soundtrack by David Kanaga, Proteus has been described by Rock Paper Shotgun as charming, and mildly mesmerising an experience not unlike that bit in a movie where a child wanders into some weird wonderland and ends up gazing about in slack-jawed delight. For fans of more traditional videogame fare, the festival also featured talks from major developers and demos of highly anticipated forthcoming releases. A keynote from Naughty Dog's lead game designer Richard Lemarchand introduced fans to the latest installment in their Uncharted franchise, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, ahead of its release this week, and there were technical talks on new release GoldenEye 007: Reloaded as well as the revamped Oddworld title Stranger's Wrath HD (which also offered the chance to get hands-on with the forthcoming game through playable demos). Animata Design offered GameCity attendees the chance to be the first in the world to play their new point-and-click adventure Botanicula, and the developers of Wrath Of The Elements were also on hand to talk to fans about the online version of the classic strategy game Shuuro and hand out access codes to the beta version of the game. http://youtu.be/6c23AI_GtPQ One of the most talked-about events was Friday's Several Amazing Things About Tetris. Basically a one-man show performed by live artist and games developer Pat Ashe who recounted stories of his own personal obsession with the game using music, video, computer games and live feeds there was one catch: the performance only lasted for as long as a member of the audience could keep a game of Tetris going. Amongst the key nuggets of information doled out during the performance was the fact that (supposedly) the name 'Tetris' is a combination of 'tetromino' and 'tennis', which is surely something of note to anyone (like me) who lost several formative years to the relentlessly addictive puzzle game. Taking videogames away from the screen and into the real world, some of the most popular events were those featuring offline collaborative games. Shadowy alternative reality game Covernomics was holding a daily briefing session in a converted music hall off of the main festival square, before letting participants loose on mysterious missions involving geo-caching, real location surveillance, information exchange and recovery and various other missions that would otherwise be performed by real world covert intelligence agents. Whatever this might mean, I know that one of the winners took home a pair of night-vision goggles, which are all kinds of awesome. http://youtu.be/l0z4lWnfdu4 On Thursday night the festival played host to LaserCinema, a 100-player laser-controlled co-op videogame in which 100 players use lasers to interact with the game via a giant projection screen (did I mention that there were 100 players?). Then on Friday, mass participation game Cat On Yer Head turned its audience into a human games console and demonstrated some of the principles of game design by setting an imaginary cat loose amongst a crowd of real-world gamers that made up the framework of the game itself. http://youtu.be/G9jmewoxJLo On Friday night, bonkers game club The Wild Rumpus brought more collaborative drink-fuelled gameplay to the Chameleon Bar for a night of indie gaming shananigans. After a spectacular launch at London's 93 Feet East back in September, the Rumpus brought along a selection of games including the Copenhagen Game Collective's B.U.T.T.O.N (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally Okay Now!) and Johann Sebastian Joust: a graphics-free duelling game played with PlayStation Move controllers to an electro-Bach soundtrack. Board games also featured heavily in the festival's lineup, with Nottingham's monthly board game night Gambling Lambs running their game library throughout the Thursday and comic and game shop Mondo Comico hosting another day of board games on the Friday. Introducing players to more unusual games as well as crowd favourites such as Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan and Saboteur, the two events featured something for fans of all levels and represented a more traditional form of gameplay at the mainly digital event. Beyond the various games and videogames showcased during the festival, GameCity also hosted the UK premiere of Academy Award-winning director Jan Sverak's new film Kooky, an adorably dark film that mixes live action and stop motion puppetry in the story of a 6-year-old boy and the adventures of his discarded teddy bear. The film was followed by a Q&A with Sverak and the film's production manager, Jan Dvorsky of Amanita Design, who had earlier that day presented the studio's latest game Botanicula. http://youtu.be/MBQbkbnj780 The festival closed with the presentation of the newly-launched Gamecity Prize. Judged by a roster of creative industry specialists headed by the Southbank Centre's artistic director Jude Kelly, the short-list of contenders for the award itself were a microcosm of the festival's inclusive and expansive attitude to videogame culture, with big titles (Portal 2, Minecraft, Pokemon Black) competing against smaller, artistically recognised releases (Limbo, ilomilo, Child of Eden, Superbrothers Swords & Sworcery). The prize went to Minecraft, a game that fittingly represented the festival's focus on collaboration and creativity in gaming. The buzz generated during the festival from the myriad different events on offer is testament to the growing interest in games (both digital and real-world) which are augmenting traditional videogame platforms expanding them from the screen and into a physical space or developing videogames as an artistically and creatively challenging artform. Events like GameCity promote not videogame culture, but videogames as culture: hopefully the festival's growing success will continue to convince of the possibilities afforded by this thriving and endlessly surprising medium.