Games Suitable For Framing
The last night of GDC was a time to take off or blow out. While many were skipping town, licking their wounds on flights to their respective homes the Destructoid crew decended upon Annie's Social Club for a night of hardcore karaoke. I'm bummed I missed that party because cheif 'toid Nick Chester has a damn fine set of pipes. Instead I slipped over to the Haight to check out a gallery opening at Giant Robot. In the tiny, treasure-packed shop four indie game designers unveiled their collaborations with contemporary artists. The ARTXGAME collective teamed Hellen Jo with Spelunky's Derek Yu -- the result was a trippy two-player beat 'em up made of paper cut-outs.
Up to four could play Anna Anthropy's retro-styled diversion. Watercolored backgrounds by Saellee Oh provided an undersea venue for four Atari 2600 era squids to swim, bounce and gobble fish. No score was kept, but a scrolling message across the bottom of he screen cleverly fed hints. Jonaton "Cactus" Soderstrom crafted the most challenging offering. A head-to-head, 2-player battler that pit armed cats against each other. The designer chopped and blended the art of Deth P. Sun then poured it into a petri dish. The player controlled cats swam about this plane gobbling birds and bunnies, while firing dash-like projectiles at their feline opponants. The game took a moment to absorb and was best played after digesting Cactus' improvised instruction manual.
Crayon Physics Deluxe creator Petri Purho tackled multi-player as well. The designs of Souther Salazar , like the picture-book interpretation of a backyard, helped Purho re-imagine Pong. Here two birds fight over a single acorn, attempting to snatch and deliver the nut to their respective squirrel. The deceptively simplistic game felt well tuned -- birds towing acorns were slowed just enough that their opponants had a chance to steal the nut and make a break for it. The game's quick back-and-forth scrambles provided the most fun of the evening.
But the evening was about more than gameplay. It was about the intersection of mediums -- about pairing like minded artists and experiencing the unpredictable results. Giant Robot was crowded with fans, creators and art collectors eager to witness these special moments. Jonthan Blow, Phil Fish, Erik Svedang and Martin Hollis were just a few of the game makers who piled into the gallery to try their hand at the games.
Meanwhile art afficianados circled the tiny gallery soaking in paintings, drawing and sculptures inspired by gaming. My favorite, an incredibly NSFW, one-panel gag strip by Johnny Ryan was snatched up by a price-conscious buyer before I could slap down my credit card.