E3 '07: Indie games get a shot

Underground development scene crashes the Barker Hangar party with a handful of alternative gaming options.


SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Despite the latest generation of consoles offering more horsepower for games and more ways to control them than ever before, the industry is still dominated by first-person shooters, licensed properties, and franchised sequels. Whatever one thinks of the upcoming lineups from the major publishers unveiled at this year's E3 Media and Business Summit, there was one booth at the Barker Hangar where visitors could count on every game shown to bring something new to the mix.

The Indie Games Showcase booth, a collaborative effort between international independent games festival IndieCade and the International Game Developers Association, takes up more space than those for some big-name publishers like Ubisoft, Activision, and Take-Two Interactive. The booth houses a number of games that stand out from the crowd, from the surreal Night Journey to the physics-based platformer N. Information about all the games on display is available at IndieCade's official Web site.

IndieCade founder Stephanie Barish took a few minutes to answer some quick questions from GameSpot about independent game development and its role at the new E3.

GameSpot: It looks like just about everyone else here is a member of the show's organizer, the Entertainment Software Association. How'd you get into E3?

Stephanie Barish: We were invited by the ESA to come, and they actually sponsored our booth because they really wanted to show everybody else here that there were other options, and just have people see things that were a little bit different.

GS: With so few companies coming this year, there's a concern that smaller, out-of-the-way games from independent developers that might have been displayed in Kentia Hall last year wouldn't get a chance at E3. Is this enough of a foothold for independent games at the show?

SB: That's a really good question. I think that this is a different kind of foothold. I don't think we could represent everybody that was in Kentia Hall. And I think the ESA purposely wanted it to just be their members representing themselves. So in terms of representing Kentia Hall, no. In terms of representing what the indie games scene is like, I think it's a really good starting point.

GS: One thing about the old E3 is that independent developers could come to the show and do business with publishers as well as the press. The indie games in the booth are getting exposure to the media, but is there as much going on with them on the business end of things?

SB: Well a lot of these games are by independent developers, like one person. These are people that wouldn't even have gotten into Kentia Hall, so yeah, this is great visibility for them... We're getting a ton of attention for the gamemakers. And also the ESA wanted to support our efforts for this independent games festival, and that will be a good place for the people who would have done business at Kentia Hall... A couple of them are now coming out. Sony just announced Everyday Shooter on the PlayStation 3, N is coming out on the DS, somebody else is working on a deal with Xbox Live Arcade. All these guys are making deals. They're all different situations because they're all individuals.

GS: What are some of your favorites here?

SB: It's hard to know; it depends on my mood. I had a dream about Night Journey last night, which is an incredible game done by game designer Tracy Fullerton and media artist Bill Viola. He's an incredible video artist and it's kind of a dreamy, zen-like game and it's really unusual, interesting, and exploratory. I love Everyday Shooter. One guy did everything on that game. And Cloud's been a favorite for a very long time.

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