There’s never been a better time to be about the indie games life.
With so many tools available for cheap and many for free, anyone can jump in and start creating. That’s what I’ve found out in my short time in the industry.
As a millennial, I can attest to growing up with AAA titles such as Mario, Zelda and Gran Turismo as my main source of entertainment. It wasn’t until last year that I stumbled upon D.C.’s indie game scene after attending my first Game Symposium by the Coder/Designer Keggers (CDK) meetup. Before the panel discussion, indie developers were set up outside and let anyone play their projects. I was hooked.
I’m not sure if any single game or studio or individual got me hooked. I believe it was the passion that each one had for their projects. They weren’t just gamers who couldn’t get enough — they were artists working on their next piece. I have a music background and I related with the difficulty of getting folks to become an audience and that’s partly what sparked the idea for Betacade, an indie showcase I launched a few months after my first Game Symposium.
I held the event at Laughing Man Tavern with 15 different games on display, like Dan Silber’s 8-bit Interstellar Invaders and Badger Head Games’ PC game Space Warfare: Infinite. (Here’s one recap of the event from Stereo Champions.) A month after that, I started Defcon Games with my cofounder Matt Key. I shelved this year’s Betacade in order to focus on a Kickstarter project for Defcon Games’ first title, DeadDots.
Here are some of the most active events and groups that all include or cater to indie games.
- #Betacade (medium-sized indie game showcase)
- Smithsonian Indie Arcade (large indie game showcase)
- Super Smash Con (has indie game sections)
- AwesomeCon (has indie game sections and panels)
- MAGFEST (has indie gaming section)
- CDK Meetup (has indie game panels, keynotes)
- International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Meetup (indie showcases and talks)
- Indie Games for All! Meetup (small indie arcades, organized by me)
- Gaming in Public Meetup (for gameplay)
- NOVA-IGD Meetup (game design education, hackathons)
- DC Area Game Makers Meetup (game design education)
Many of these groups and events are supported by the local IGDA. Without them, the local industry wouldn’t have a foundation or a voice. IGDA, said chair of the board Melanie Stegman, exists to bring local developers together and showcase their games, like at Indie Game Nite every second Tuesday of the month and at the new District Arcade event. The first one will be on Aug. 27 at 1001 Connecticut Ave., Farragut North Station.
“We’re collaborating with MAGFest Arcade, the great team behind the one of the largest gaming events on the east coast,” Stegman said about District Arcade. “Fifteen of the area’s best indie games will be showcased along with 15 classic arcade game consoles.”
“Gaming is always best with friends,” Stegman wrote. “Bring many!”
Lastly, if you just want to get playing, find a list of IGDA developers and their games on the group’s website.