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Local video game developers host community indie gaming night

By Jason Herring, February 9 2016 —

The Calgary Game Developers Association (CGDA) is celebrating independent video games and showcasing the work of local developers at their second Indie Game Bash on Feb. 20 at the Sunalta Community Centre.

The event, which lets participants play popular indie games from recent years, acts as both a fundraiser for the CGDA and an introduction to Calgary’s game development community. Event organizer and CGDA board director Justin Luk hopes the evening provides exposure for games made in the city.

“Our idea is that anyone making games can have a place to meet other like-minded people,” Luk says. “Indie Game Bash was an idea of mine, a local multiplayer game night where you sit down with your friends and you all play together.”

Luk says he hopes presenting games people are familiar with will bring them to the event, where they can play games made by local developers.

While indie games rarely have the same reach as those released by major studios on large budgets, some — like top-down shooter Nuclear Throne, which is featured at the Indie Game Bash — have managed to gain mainstream recognition. Indie games from Calgary have yet to reach widespread audiences, but Luk believes gamers are happy to support homegrown talent.

“I think the Calgary arts scene has this great thing where people support locals,” he says. “We love to see and support local talent, especially in a city like Calgary, where we’re so oil and gas heavy. It’s great to see people doing something outside of that.”

A number of local developers will demo projects at the event. Among them are Kyle Reczek, whose first-person shooter 3, 2, 1, Grenades recently launched on Steam’s Greenlight system, and Radu Muresan, who recently displayed his cooperative puzzler Semispheres at the Microsoft Store in Chinook Centre.

While the Indie Game Bash is an opportunity to expose local gamers to the CGDA, Luk stresses that the evening’s profit doesn’t go directly to developers.

“It’s all done out of a love for making games and supporting the community,” he says.

Instead, the CGDA, a not-for-profit, plans to use all money raised from the evening to fund future events like game jams, where groups of developers gather together to create games over a short period of time.

Calgary’s game development scene still lags behind those in cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton — which houses the mammoth studio Bioware — but Luk thinks that gap is closing.

“The dream would be to have a scene like [Vancouver or Toronto], and it would be awesome to diversify our economy. In our current economic state, we’re really reliant on oil, so it’d be great for that new industry to really kick off here,” he says. “Realistically, I’d expect to see more successful, small teams of indies popping up versus a giant studio like Bioware.”

For those looking to learn how to develop video games, Luk offers some advice.

“Just jump on a game engine and start making games — the best way to make games is to make games. You’re going to stumble and fall and make a ton of mistakes, but the only way to learn is by doing it,” Luk says. “Then come to one of our meetups. It’s a good way to talk about your games and get to know the community.”

The Indie Game Bash runs from 7:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. at Sunalta Community Centre on Feb. 20. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door. For more information, visit indiegamebash.com.


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