Arts / Events / Gaming

From game devs to makers, here’s how technologists are involved in Artscape 2019

All the details on this year's Gamescape, plus some other spots to find Baltimore tech folks at the big arts festival.

Playing "Mister Mart" at Gamescape 2016. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Updated to reflect IGDA is the International Game Developers Association. (4:10 p.m., 7/18/19)
Get ready to get inspired: Artscape, Baltimore’s annual midsummer arts extravaganza that gathers around Charles Street and Mt. Royal Avenue, returns this weekend.

With a theme of “Discover,” the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts-produced festival brings plenty of creative energy, from large-scale installations to music to a marketplace of local artists.

There’s a place for technology within the big event, as well, and that’s perhaps most evident at Gamescape, running July 19 to 21 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The event brings together video games being built locally from game studios, individuals and students creating new work in the area.

This year, BOPA partnered with the Baltimore chapter of the International Game Developers Association’s Baltimore chapter on the event. Gamescape will happen at 1915 Maryland Ave. behind the former Red Emma’s space just off North Avenue — a a new location after a few years at the University of Baltimore.

IGDA-Baltimore chair Jonathan Moriarty said he’s been attending Gamescape since it started eight years ago, when he was working with the UMBC Game Developers Club.

“Gamescape has been really important for the local community,” he said: The collective presence at a big public event like Artscape gives a central point of visibility for a community that’s well-known within its industry.

Just north of the city in Baltimore County’s Hunt Valley, there’s a long history of game studios, dating back to Sid Meier’s Civilization and the studios MicroProse and Firaxis. Today, studios like Big Huge Games continue to put out titles that get attention around the world.

Gamescape attendees in 2015.

Gamescape attendees in 2015. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

With that influence and through programs from MICA, the University of Baltimore and UMBC, plenty of new games are being built in the area, as well. For the developers working on new projects, Gamescape offers a chance to let folks play an early version, and get some feedback.

“It provides them an opportunity to put their game in front of fresh eyes and see how people respond to that game,” Moriarty said “It’s great for being able to iterate on things.”

One of the games in development will be from Boba Studios, which was formed by MICA alumni. Squirrely Roo Rabbit draws on color theory to solve environmental challenges.

The UMBC Game Developers Club will also have a rotation of games in development at the event, and Underground Arcade Collective will have a collection of short alternative games from designers Alex Higgins, Stephen Thomas and John D. Moore.

Along with studios that will be at the event all weekend, Moriarty said Gamescape will also feature a quick play area that features developers who will be on hand in shorter time slots.

“Depending on what day or what time you check in at Gamescape, you might see different games rotating in and out,” he said.

BreakAway Games, which is among the large studios based in Hunt Valley, will be in that area with Mythic Palace, an online card game based on the mythology of “1001 Arabian Nights.”

Gamescape won’t be the only space with gaming activity in the area. In the former Red Emma’s space at the corner of North and Maryland avenues, a new restaurant and arcade is taking shape through a collaboration between Secret Sauce Co. and MAGFest, the latter of which runs an annual festival at National Harbor, Baltimore Fishbowl reported.

For Artscape weekend, the space will be open, with MAGFest bringing classic arcade and console games. Killer Queen, which normally makes its home at Holy Frijoles in Hampden, will be available for multi-player arcade gaming.

And inside the space, Station North makerspace The Baltimore Node is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The North Avenue Market will be among the stops on a Friday event bringing a neighborhood-level spotlight called the Station North Art Crawl. Co-organized by the market and BmoreArt, it also features activities at a total of 15 arts organizations and businesses in the district, including the Made in Baltimore store — which has the goods of local makers — and Open Works makerspace, which will be open for tours at its main location on Greenmount Avenue and station its Open Works mobile at the YNot Lot.

Toward the center of the festival footprint, there’s also room for entrepreneurs. Custom 3D Stuff, the digital fabrication and was founded by technologist Todd Blatt, will have a booth on the festival’s Fashion Block. And on Mt. Royal, Open Works and Greenmount West Power Press are teaming up for a booth.

For a full look at Artscape, visit the festival’s website.


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