IGF Nuovo Award winner and indie mastermind Cactus’ first talk this year, Abusing Your Players Just For Fun, was ostensibly about designing games with obfuscated interactions, bizarre themes, trippy visuals, a high level of difficulty— the kind of stuff Cactus is known for— but really, to me, seemed more about encouraging people who would otherwise not develop games to try, about the desire to see an even greater variety of creative output from the indie games sphere. (I’m sure we’ve all wondered at some point what types of games Bowie might make! Or that baby.)
The session opened with a legitimate seizure warning (though, his talk last year was probably more dangerous in that regard) and, for the most part, he discussed various artists in other fields, like film and music, who bring a singular, unique creative vision to their work. He even stopped for a spell to show this scene from David Lynch’s Lost Highway.
But that’s not to say game designers didn’t get their due! Cactus went on to show the work of a few indies that inspire him, “punk rock” game developers as he called them: Matt “TheAnemic” Aldrige, creator of the surreal La La Land series of games (and most recently Uin); Mark “”http://messhof.com/news/" title=“Messhof’s Site”>Messhof" Essen, in particular his games Punishment, Flywrench, and Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist; the multi-talented Jph Wacheski; and even Jon Blow. (He probably did, but I would also have to point to Stephen “”http://www.increpare.com/" title=“increpare games (Stephen Lavelle”>increpare" Lavelle and his ever growing portfolio of mind-bending works!)
If you’d like to read a description of the session by someone who, you know, actually knows how to write, I recommend this post Scott Sharkey made to his 1UP blog— he really nails it!