Category Archives: Slamdance

Posts involving the Slamdance 2007 Guerilla Gamemaker Competition.

The Slamdance Games Festival has been canceled.

Sam Roberts has just posted an announcement that the Slamdance Games Festival has been canceled for the foreseeable future.

The trouble all started back when Slamdance leadership attempted to remove Super Columbine Massacre RPG! from the festival, after it had been selected as a finalist. Several other finalists (including this one) had adverse reactions to that.

As a compromise solution, Slamdance was going to hold the games festival in Los Angeles, where there aren’t as many mormons (and where, I guess, the games festival would be enough far-removed that it wouldn’t tarnish the image of the film festival. Or something.)

This is kind of a bummer, because it’s one less venue for indie games to get exposure, and I know that Sam Roberts put a lot of work into it. At the same time, there are other, more-active festivals now, and Sam is a director of one of the most prominent ones, Indiecade. Indiecade are having showings at E3 and PAX this year, as well as a stand-alone show at OpenSatellite in Seattle. Braid was in the IndieCade showing at E3 2007, and it was a good situation.

Braid poster art.

Hourglass and Castle

David Hellman painted this in December 2006.  We intended to use it for our Slamdance Game Festival posters, and perhaps for other purposes later on.  We ended up not attending Slamdance, so this has been sitting on our hard drives for months.

It seems best to put it out there for now and let people enjoy it, as it is really nice.  It captures the theme of the game but still feels mysterious.  It perhaps makes the audience wonder, “what is that about?”  We will undoubtedly use this image in the future in some capacity.  Right now I’m using it as a desktop image.  Click the thumbnail above for a 1024×1024 version.

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.

More withdrawals from the Slamdance festival.

Everyday Shooter.


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


Slamdance Logo 3

Slamdance has announced the finalists of their 2007 Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition and Braid is on the list. So if you are in Park City, Utah, USA between January 18th and January 23rd of 2007, you’ll be able to play the most recent version of the game, as well as attend a talk and Q&A session about the design. Plus you get to see a bunch of other interesting games, and films too.
We’ll provide more details about the day and time of the session as they become available.