All posts by Jonathan Blow

Gameworld Exhibit in Spain

Braid will be on exhibit, with other interesting games, at the Laboral Art and Industrial Creation Center in Gijón, Spain. The exhibit runs from March 30th until about June 30th, 2007. Here is the main web page for the event.

Babelfish does a pretty good job of Spanish-to-English translation, and I quote:

The Gameworld exhibition explores videojuego as art form and presents/displays contemporary work examples of art related to videojuegos. By means of that double line of investigation, the exhibition explores the videojuegos and computer games like entertainment, form of art, agent of innovation and cultural force.

So, score another point for the Games as Art team. Laboral has not yet posted the full list of games in the exhibit; I’ll announce it here when they do.

Eerie Horror Game Festival

The Eerie Horror Film Festival has announced a game competition to occur later this year. The focus is on horror, sci-fi and mystery/suspense games. The deadline for submissions is September 1, so you’ve got plenty of time to cook something up.

In reference to the recent Slamdance / Super Columbine issue, note what they emphasize in the Eligibility section: “Content is NOT an issue.”

I think this genre specialization will make for an interesting and fresh take on the game festival concept. Unfortunately, Braid is only tangentially in the Speculative Fiction genre so it’s not appropriate for this festival, otherwise it would be entered posthaste.

In other news, there’s also Indiecade, with a focus on indepdent developers, innovation and experimentalism. I’ve been told that they may be planning an event this summer, as a precursor to the main festival; I will post more about that as information becomes available.

Bad Vista

Bad Vista

The Free Software Foundation has launched the Bad Vista campaign, to help spread awareness about the fact that Vista is really about taking things away from you… not helping you out. If you’re not familiar with the story behind Vista, please read this introduction. For a detailed litany of the problems, see Peter Gutmann’s recent analysis.

Because Vista annoys me so much, I have installed Ubuntu Linux on my desktop machine. Braid will be ported and released on Ubuntu, and another upcoming project of mine is being co-developed on Ubuntu. It is really a quite usable operating system in most respects and I recommend trying it out. (You can download and burn a bootable Live CD that will let you try out the Ubuntu desktop experience without installing anything on your hard drive. Why not give it a shot?)

Microsoft’s marketing department is working hard to position Vista as some kind of panacea that will bring you the future of gaming, a great thing for developers and players alike. Well, you can mark me down as a developer who does not believe that to be true at all. Alex St John (another developer) recently wrote an article criticizing Vista as well. His angle is more about game deployment and accessibility than user rights and freedoms; but it shows yet another way that Vista is about restriction, rather than benefit.

Crush: Lookin’ pretty sweet.

ss_crush_02.jpg Crush Screenshot (flat)

Folks interested in Braid may also want to check out a game recently announced by Kuju and Sega: Crush.

It’s a very interesting-looking platformer where you project 3D space down to 2D in order to do impossible-ish things.

Kotaku’s coverage (including gameplay video).

The official Sega site.

Crush and Portal are going to make 2007 a very interesting year for space-bending games. And when Braid gets done… we’ll add some time-bending into the mix.

More withdrawals from the Slamdance festival.

Everyday Shooter.

Toblo.

Once Upon a Time.

I commend the developers of these games for standing behind their principles. And I encourage you all out there to go download demos of these games and / or buy copies (I think the only game actually being sold right now is Once Upon a Time… Everyday Shooter isn’t publicly released yet and Toblo is free).

Looking at the Slamdance game competition page now, there are just 8 games there. Which is still enough to have a competition, but one has to wonder about the legitimacy of the results when 40% of the entrants have dropped out, and the dropouts are such promising games.

Note that toward the top of the page Slamdance has made an official statement about the SCMRPG situation. Unfortunately, this statement doesn’t add anything new to the conversation.

Flow has withdrawn from Slamdance as well.

That Game Company, creators of the Slamdance finalist Flow, have also decided to show their disapproval for the ejection of SCMRPG by withdrawing from the competition. They were considering this action before I was, and it’s very difficult for a multi-person team to come to consensus on a decision like this. So, everyone concerned about the precedent being set here can thank Jenova, Nick, Kellee, and Austin for standing up for their beliefs, and making this move.

You can find the official statement on their blog.

Jonathan Blow

Braid Developer

Braid won’t be at Slamdance after all.

Recently, a game about the Columbine High School shooting — in which the player takes the role of the killers and wanders through the school shooting students — was kicked out of the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition, due to pressure from sponsors.

The game lacks compassion, and I find the Artist’s Statement disingenuous. But despite this, the game does have redeeming value. It does provoke important thoughts, and it does push the boundaries of what games are about. It is composed with more of an eye toward art than most games. Clearly, it belongs at the festival.

So, in protest of game’s expulsion, I have dropped Braid out of the competition as well.

This decision has been difficult. Festivals like Slamdance are important to the continued deepening of the independent games movement, and the competition organizers are very hard-working people who understand games. I don’t want to hurt the festival or undermine the efforts of the organizers.

But games should be taken seriously as an art form that can expand the boundaries of human experience. Games can help us to understand situations in a fully-engaged fashion, as participants and co-creators, which the passive media cannot do. As an art form they contain a tremendous power to shift perspective and to heighten wisdom. For the art form to achieve these potentials, game developers need to explore the space of possibilities in earnest. But if games are denied their appropriate level of societal recognition, growth of the form will be very difficult, and human culture will be the lesser for it.

If left unchallenged, the expulsion of the Columbine game sets a precedent in the wrong direction. Dropping Braid out of the competition, while not a huge act, is the strongest protest I have the power to make.

This may seem paradoxical, but I do respect the sponsors’ decision to pressure Slamdance into dropping the Columbine game. They are just preventing their money from supporting something they consider morally reprehensible. So, good for them.

In the unlikely event that Slamdance re-admits the Columbine game, Braid will consent to rejoin the festival as well, assuming they still want it.

Jonathan Blow

Braid developer