I just got back from my first visit to Indiecade and wanted to write up a summary of my takeaways. Hopefully it's useful for people. I was really pleased to see the kind of topics that the Indiecade organizers decided to put at the center of their programming.*
Indiecade 2016 Takeaways:
1. Work to actively create diverse teams and to create diverse spaces for development. It is good for games as a whole to represent a wider variety of viewpoints. Having diverse teams can also translate into your game having greater appeal for a wider audience - not just gamers with different backgrounds, but also people who might not play games yet. Better teams, better games, better business, better world!
2. Consider creating games that can have a social impact. If you have a dream game that is more normative, or you just happen to be working on a more traditional game already, work to challenge normative roles within the game world. This can have a bigger impact on players than you might think. Avoid scruffy white male protagonists. We Are Chicago is the key example I have in mind.
3. Mental health is the most important aspect to manage during game development, both for yourself and teams. Consider this when setting deadlines and creating processes. Happy developers make good games. Consider recovery strategies for post-crunch time. Don't sacrifice your physical/mental health to create your art!
Games that I hadn't heard about that I thought were especially cool and suggest checking out:
Games I have been following that I got to play that ended up being cool to play:
Last but not least. I went to a talk by Rand Miller, co-creator of Myst, Riven, and Obduction and asked him a question about how hard it is to do good game design, especially to marry story and mechanics, and he concluded with:
"It's really hard, but go for it!"
Words to live by!
*Note: I had a "GameU" pass to Indiecade, which allowed me to go to talks focused more on beginner developers.