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How I Fell in Love with a Festival

Most people outside of the UK haven't had the pleasure of attending Gamecity. Here's why you should make it a part of your year, every year.

Most commonly, love creeps up on you.

After an impossible-to-predict amount of time, lust and respect and admiration sort-of combine into (and sort-of make way for) love.

My first Gamecity was a torrid affair. I don’t even remember how we met. Driven half mad by my lonely time as a card-carrying shed-indie, I arrived in Nottingham a wide eyed 29 year old with my first self-published game and some home-made cake under my arm. Four days of demo-ing to a varied public and three nights of drunken revelry/networking later and I went home tired, broke (I genuinely ran out of money during the festival) and yet strangely refreshed. Invigorated. Inspired, even.

A busman’s holiday it may have been but nevertheless a holiday it was, and one I apparently needed on many levels. I made solid friends I still have to this day, and it was the start of something bigger for me. A particular (or par-dick-ular - this lame joke is for one potential reader) highlight was a meal ‘conceptualised’ by famous French game designer Eric Chahi at which all kinds of puerile hi-jinks occurred. Well, at my table anyway.

Skip forward a year to 2012, and the festival has grown. A full week long! It was an orgy of excitement, celebrity, new games, old games, home-made cake and light hearted exploration of what games are, what they might be, and why. It marked the blooming of a full-blooded passion for me. It reinforced why I enjoyed the festival so much the year before, layered on all kinds of extra unexpected quirks, and I revelled in it, knee deep, for longer than ever before. That I still wanted note showed the depth of feeling Gamecity nurtured inside me.

Then this year happened. I more fully committed to it than ever before - not in terms of time at the festival but rather preparation for it and level of involvement - showing four games, one of them bespoke for Gamecity. TOMB was a love letter of sorts.

But some of the less-than-ideal aspects of the festival’s personality do peek through on closer inspection and as I spend more time with it. The downsides of Gamecity are hard to ignore… a slightly casual attitude to organisation, etc. - but then I moved past them. Because I love it despite the faults. Maybe because of the faults.

Showing TOMB to an audience of people in the city square on two giant screens with the setting winter sun casting long spindly shadows across the pavement. Serving cake to families as their children laugh and giggle at a simple piece of papercraft based on a game I’ve not even released yet. Painting a willy on my pudding (with edible paint, natch) at the exact same time as a fellow British indie who’ll remain nameless.

Here’s to many more years together, Gamecity. For you and I, and everyone else.

(I originally posted this - and so too all of my blogs - on my tumblr a day earlier. You can also follow me on twitter)

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