This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Bit Bash: Chicago’s Alternative Games Festival in the West Loop at the Revel Fulton Market. Sponsored by AlienWare, Wargaming.net (the masterminds behind World of Tanks), and Emporium Arcade, Bar, and Venue, Bit Bash features games from independent developers from across the globe. From Johannesburg, South Africa to Bordeax, France and from Melbourne, Australia to Toronto, Canada, Bit Bash featured bits and pieces from nearly every corner of the world.
It’s no secret that Virtual Reality is the next big thing within the gaming world and indie gaming is far from an exception. Headmaster, an upcoming title for the PlayStation VR this fall, was perhaps the biggest attraction of the festival. Players are set right in the middle of a soccer field and the objective is to bounce soccer balls into the goal using only your head. A peaceful meditation counterpart by the name of Guided Meditation VR was also available. Players immerse themselves in a vast array of relaxing scenery in this title. Its basis is focused on six core principles; simplicity, freedom, choice, agnostic, transparent, and kaizen.
Among the most outstanding of the festival, of which I had the pleasure of playing myself, was Arena Gods, a top down gladiator style brawler developed by Supertype of New York City. In this game players use a color coded gladiator and rush to kill their enemies as weapons appear at random on their stage of choice. Weapons are typically spears, swords, shields, and tridents and may be used as projectiles. Bear in mind however that launching projectiles may result in the player accidentally killing themselves depending on the stage.
Another outstanding entry was developed by Chicago’s very own Chris Wade called Sausage Sports Club. A self proclaimed “sausage-themed physics game about adorable, long-necked animals competing on a reality sports TV show”, Sausage Sports Club provides players with five fun modes with different objectives for up to eight players, to include; sumo, soccer, capture the flag, coinz, and paint, with more to come. The game is being funded through Kickstarter donations here and is expected to be released through Steam.
Gamers enjoy Super Russian Roulette
But perhaps the most unique of the festival was not a game of current gen consoles, it was in fact an upcoming NES (that’s Nintendo Entertainment System, for the younger crowd) party game by the name of Super Russian Roulette. In this game, developed by Andrew Reitano of New York City, up to three players pass the iconic NES Zapper and play Russian Roulette with a snarky, trash talking cowboy computer AI. Each player takes a turn until but one player remains. The CPU itself even takes a turn. If the last two who remain are the player and the CPU then on the player’s turn they may choose to shoot themselves or the CPU. But be warned if players shoot a blank at the CPU, you’re in for it…
The unique experience that is A Moment Free From Darkness
Fun and games were not the only features of the festival as more socially conscious digital arts and media were also available. The product of collaboration between Kerry Richardson, Steve Ciampaglia, and thirteen teenage artists from Chicago’s South Side, Plug-In Studio’s The Street Arcade is a selection of 8-bit style games tackling social issues ranging from peer pressure to racial profiling. There was also A Moment Free Free From Darkness which tackles the issue of sex trafficking in such a profound and creative manner that I would not dare spoil here, it must be first experienced to truly feel the impact through the four platforms for which it was made. And then from Chicago-based Culture Shock Games there was We Are Chicago. We Are Chicago is a first-person narrative adventure game based on real life stories about the harsh realities of growing up on Chicago’s South Side and how the game’s protagonist, Aaron, deals with hardships just days away from graduating high school. It was very reminiscent of Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain for the PS3. This title will be coming to Steam and PC.
Topped off with energetic performances from musical guests Pizza Pals, venoSci, C418, and Chipzel, a raffle with great prizes from Wargaming.net, and charitable organizations with community service opportunities, Bit Bash was a blast and featured a little bit of something for gamers and non-gamers alike.
More titles featured at Bit Bash that I had the privilege of enjoying were Fossil Echo, Pocket Rumble, The Wild Eternal, and TumbleSeed.
Other titles featured can be found at bitbashchicago.com