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Comics vs. Games: Thinking Outside the Panel
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Comics vs. Games: Thinking Outside the Panel


August 3, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

Show and Tell

The five works of Comics vs. Games tell five different stories of how cross-collaboration doesn't have to follow a set formula and can find success among more styles and genres than one might think. Those stories don't count for much, though, if the games don't find an audience. According to Sternberg, indie game developers and groups must build networks with venues and organizers as much as with other creative talent.

"If you're a musician, you need to learn how to put on live shows," he said. "And that's not just how to perform it; it's also how to organize, how to get the gear from place to place. All of that stuff is what a musician's skill set is, and I think for indie game developers, it's not necessarily the only way to go, but if you really want to evangelize indie games as part of what you do, it's a necessary skill set."

The association with TIFF Nexus provided a foundation of substantial resources and connections, something Sternberg said he felt very lucky to receive.

"I did not realize how much work was involved in the background stuff of making sure that we had a venue booked, that we made sure it was well set up for displaying stuff like monitors and such," he said. "Because there was actually some money behind it, we were able to get some really nice monitors, unlike a lot of indie game stuff, where we're showing all this amazing content, but it's being shown on shitty laptops covered in dust, because they're the same machines people work on all the time."

Springtime showings were held at the Magic Pony contemporary gallery in Toronto and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. In September, the games are expected to be showcased in some form at the Toronto Independent Film Festival itself -- likely alongside works from other projects and creative jams held by the Nexus within the past year. Visitors to the showings have included members of San Francisco developer Double Fine, some of whom do their own dabbling in comics, and a group of artists from Australia.

Unfortunately, not every region has access to an organization so engaged with independent talent, and even then it can be a struggle for them to provide support. The governmental funding TIFF Nexus received to help operate through its first year and initialize projects like Comics vs. Games has been cut out of the next budget. The organization still plans to go forward however it can with the next phase of projects, though, and Smith is optimistic that the results of Comics vs. Games and other jams will provide evidence of its long-term value as an incubator.

"That is what it is," Smith said, "but we are looking for various other opportunities and I think what Nexus has provided us going out is to say, 'Look what happens. Look what's possible when these different sectors -- industry sectors, different creatives -- come together. Look what we can do and what the potential long-term effects can be.' And we think that's going to help us generate funding from different sources."


The Yawhg

In the meantime, individual efforts are further spreading the games and collaborative concept. The Yawhg and Black Church Brigandage were both submitted to IndieCade, with the latter also entered into the Austin, Texas-based Fantastic Fest. Additionally, Sommer is toying with the idea of turning his engine for The Yawhg into an easy-access story creation engine, given the success others had creating some content for the game. Plans for the other games are still under consideration.

And the ever-ambitious Belanger? He's taking Brigandage and running. He says he'd like to show the game off at conventions and will be hosting a Black Church night with Brigandage tournament during the Thought Bubble comic arts festival in Leeds, England. He has also been in discussion with festival organizers about organizing their own Comics vs. Games-style jam in 2013.

Belanger loves the game, of course, but the other reason for his push is one investors in initiatives like Nexus might want to hear. "From a publishing/marketing situation," he said, "when you have something cross-medium, it's actually really, really awesome."


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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