Ah…Fresh air. Daylight. These are the things I miss after I spend a couple of days mulling around a trade show floor with my fellow gamers. Not at Rezzed this year, though.
This year the choice to use London’s Tobacco Dock venue was a solid point in the victory column. It’s far less oppressive than Earls Court or the NEC Birmingham: adequate, interconnected spaces partitioned by glass and walkways. Crowds are spread out over two floors, with small groups meandering freely from one area filled with games to another. It’s like a small shopping centre filled with hardware and screens rather than shitty coffee shops. To put it in simple terms, Rezzed was much healthier for the human body this year than trade shows have a right to be.
A lot of people seemed to be identifying themselves as a staple food. The team behind I Am Bread produced only the most ridiculous headgear I could imagine, yet everyone – particularly the teens – seemed to wear it with pride. Many people were bread. If there’s a marketing award, the PR team behind I Am Bread should win it.
In the realm of the less weird, Microsoft appear to have put their hands down their trousers and found out that, no, they have not in fact been castrated by Sony. At last year’s Rezzed I laughed at how pathetic the Xbox One indie game section was (which is to say, there wasn’t any), while Sony had taken up a significant 1/3rd of the show floor with their indie projects. This year Microsoft have rectified this, putting their indie games program ID@XBOX front and centre with a dedicated room featuring 18 different titles (none of which, thankfully, were Minecraft).
Indeed, they plastered the glass with the ID@XBOX logo, as if to announce: “HELLO! YES, WE EXIST! INDIE GAMES ARE INDEED ON THE XBOX ONE, PLEASE NOTICE US!” Steady on, chaps, steady on. It’s nice to see a console other than Sony’s PS4 taking indie games seriously. Even Nintendo appears to be waking up to the fact that indie games can make a return on investment when they’re done properly, and if the most stubborn company in the games industry is embracing this change…Well, I don’t need to spell out the obvious.
What was also fantastic about Rezzed was how civil everyone was. You wouldn’t think there had been a massive identity crisis in gaming culture to look at all these developers, gamers and gamer-curious types wandering around chatting to each other and playing stuff. There were no militant T-shirts, no angry glares from anyone, all the devs, visitors and PR people were lovely. It was a friendly, relaxed setting, probably helped by the aforementioned daylight and fresh air. See? That shit matters!
I’ll talk more about the actual games I played in future posts, but for now I’m happy to say that gamer culture is still alive, still vibrant and as wonderful as ever.
Written by Alex Lemcovich (MA Journalism Student at Birkbeck) Photographs by Alex Lemcovich