Today, Not Just Geeks published a great interview with the two directors of the Boston Festival of Indie Games, Dan Silvers and Aerjen Tamminga. It is a phenomenal interview and well worth your time to read.
In particular, Geoffrey Kleinman asked a question highlighting one of my favorite parts of the BFIG: there is a great balance between tabletop and video/mobile indie games:
What’s the split between video games, mobile games and tabletop games at BFIG?
DS: I for one don’t like to think there’s a split between video games and mobile games, because then you also have to split off PC/Mac/Linux games and then it just gets complicated. If we’re just talking digital vs. tabletop games then there are about 3 digital games to every 1 tabletop game at the show. In the past it’s been as much as 5 or 6 digital to every one tabletop, so the fact that it is so close now is ridiculously exciting!
Aerjen Tamminga: Actually, I was just going over some numbers and it looks like we’re coming close to 2 digital games to every one tabletop. Like Dan said, ever since the conception of the festival tabletop games have been exploding! It’s a wonderful time to be a tabletop indie. Fun fact: did you know that last year tabletop and digital games raised about an equal amount of funds on Kickstarter (close to $60M)?
One of the things that I found most interesting was the discussion included in the interview about how games are selected for the showcases that are part of the festival:
How are games selected for the various showcases?
DS: Showcase games are selected by a group of curators from all walks of life in the industry: writers, designers, artists, academics, etc. We look for games that show a strong Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics core and bring something innovative to the table. Aerjen can talk more in-depth about what we look for here.
AT: Dan gave a very good synopsis of how the process for selecting games work. If we get more into detail there are some differences between tabletop and digital due to the difference in medium.
Tabletop game designers first submit their rules for review. The curation coordinator is responsible for going over these. In this stage we’re only screening for completeness of the rules and clarity. Designers that pass this stage send in their prototypes which get played by a combination of curators and volunteers. The curators (professionals from the game industry) write up an elaborate feedback report based on a list of 10 criteria that have been developed by Keith Meyers.
In the end it’s the curators that decide which games move on to the show, where the audience will be voting on their favorites.
For digital games we skip the step of sending in the rules and since digital games in general require less players we only work with curators. Multiple curators vote on which games should be in the festival or not and whenever it’s not clear we review the games once more.
As you can see the overall curation process is an elaborate and thorough process and we haven’t even talked about technical challenges. We’ve set up our curation process in this way make sure that games get judged as objectively as possible and to help the designers improve on their games based on the curator’s feedback.
The Boston Festival of Indie Games will take place on September 13th on the Boston MIT campus. IndieHangover will be in attendance and will be sure to update you with first looks and interviews with the Indie Developers at the show.