UCLA Game Art Festival to present a “lightning-round” showcase of cutting-edge videogames

One night only! 7-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 @ The Hammer Museum Courtyard

Festival to feature more than 35 playable games, tournaments, machinima screenings, and other game art installations

Two giant projection screens, multiple game cabinets and live music will contribute to the festival’s cacophonous, carnival-like atmosphere

skull2013Now in its third year, the 2013 UCLA Game Art Festival is taking a lightning-round, everything-at-once approach to showcasing a curated, international collection of the year’s most cutting-edge videogames and other interactive arts. The festival returns to the Hammer Museum Courtyard from 7-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 8.

Sponsored by the UCLA Game Lab in conjunction with the Hammer Student Association, the UCLA Game Art Festival will feature more than 35 playable games, tournaments, machinima screenings, and more. Surrounded by game art, attendees will enjoy a cacophonous, carnival-like atmosphere: two large-screen projections flanking the Courtyard will simultaneously showcase many of the festival’s exhibits, while individual games can be played on arcade cabinets stationed throughout the area.

As with last year’s festival, which attracted more than 1,000 attendees, the focus remains on sharing an eclectic mix of cutting-edge, independent, student and professional projects that may not otherwise reach the public. Eddo Stern, UCLA Design Media Arts professor, artist, and lead curator of the festival, said many of the games selected for this year’s event will encourage attendees to think about the interplay between games and other media. “One of our curatorial goals for the festival is to examine independent games and game art within a multidisciplinary context,” Stern said. “Games and gaming culture are intertwined with other media arts—performance, sculpture, theater, music, design, film, and so on—and many of the games selected for the festival play with the relationship between media forms.”

Though still in its infancy, the UCLA Game Art Festival is already earning a reputation for supporting games that often go on to win accolades from entertainment media and other game conferences. For example, the retail-simulation gameCart Life, one of several standout games from last year’s festival, received best-game honors at the Independent Games Festival in March. The game’s creator, Richard Hofmeier, is back again this year as the event’s emcee.

Contributing to the lively ambiance will be music by chiptune artist Mike D’Errico and psychedelic shoegaze rock band Vinyl Williams, as well as light refreshments and a bar. Those seeking a more tranquil play experience should check out the Board Game Lounge, adjacent to the museum’s Courtyard area. Returning again this year will be the UCLA Game Lab Arcade Backpack, which will feature a playable videogame strapped to the back of a roving, human arcade machine. Game designers will especially appreciate the modular arcade cabinet on display—a customizable game case used by UCLA Game Lab students to easily swap-out different arcade-style control interfaces.

Some featured games:

The UCLA Game Art Festival, curated by Eddo Stern and the UCLA Game Lab, does not give individual awards but rather takes a group-show approach to exhibiting games and other art. Ranging from the provocatively serious to the profoundly silly, the games selected for this year’s festival include:

Perfect Woman (Lea Schoenfelder and Peter Lu)

This motion-based performance game charts the course of a woman’s life through seven stages, probing the social expectations placed on women.

Laser Cabinet (Khalil Klouche, Geneva University of Art and Design)

Featuring side-mounted buttons like a pinball machine for controls, Laser Cabinet turns its seemingly blank wooden surface into a playable videogame.

Objectif (Aliah Magdalena Darke)

Objectif is card game that, as the game designer and UCLA student Aliah Magdalena Darke explains, “challenges our perceptions of race, women and beauty while simultaneously revealing the assumptions we make about ourselves and others.”

Ulak-Tartysh, or that goat-carcass polo game (acquired by Jason Tochinsky)

This rare, 1983 arcade game simulates the Central Asian sport of buzkashi, which is akin to playing polo with the carcass of a headless goat. It’s true.

The Propheteers (Nick Crockett)

The Propheteers is a board game of faith, money and power. Or, as the rules state, “He or she who has collected the greatest earthly wealth in the name of the LORD shall be the victor, and the rest be DAMNED. Amen.”

Bollywood Wannabe (Chrysaor Studio)

Dance, dance, dance for movie stardom in this rhythm platform game that allows players to create their own choreography.

In a Permanent Save State (Benjamin Poynter)

Banned from Apple’s iTunes store, this game by Benjamin Poynter is based on the 2010 suicides at the Foxconn plant where many electronic products are mass produced.

Featured UCLA Game Lab Backpack running the game Exit Pallette (Stephen Ou and Stefan Wojciechowski)

The ultimate, portable arcade machine is designed to be worn as a backpack, will feature Exit Pallette, a puzzle-platform game based on RGB subtractive color theory.

The 2013 UCLA Game Art Festival is a project of the UCLA Game Lab, sponsored by the School of Arts and Architecture and the School of Theater, Film and Television, in conjunction with the Hammer Student Association. For more information, please contact Eddo Stern (eddostern@arts.ucla.edu) or David Elliott (david@games.ucla.edu).

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