The Hand Eye Society (HES) turns the ripe old age of five this year and to celebrate, Toronto’s video game collective is throwing a fancy video game party. Literally. It’s called the Fancy Videogame Party (FVP) and the now sold-out event will be taking place at the appropriately fancy Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) this Friday.
That’s when the AGO will be transformed into a self-described “multi-story playground” filled with games from around the world and sounds from game music-makers.
We asked HES board member and former Dork Shelf contributor Alex Hayter to tell us what attendees shouldn’t miss at the FVP. After discussing with event co-planners HES executive director Jim Munroe and Marie Foulston of indie game event organizer Wild Rumpus, Hayter presents in his own words what should be at the top of your must-experience list.
1. Johann Sebastian Joust
We keep hearing about Joust, but I’ve met very few people here who have actually played it. Joust by developer Die Gute Fabrik is a two-to-seven player game using PlayStation Move controllers, where players try to move to the rhythm of J.S. Bach’s music while trying to knock everyone else out of that rhythm.
Designer Doug Wilson will be in attendance, and Joust will be quite a spectacle in the “floating room” above the dance floor at the AGO.
2. Four-person multiplayer battles
I cheated and included three — TowerFall: Ascension, Turnover, and Tether (video above) are some of the coolest multiplayer battle games I’ve played. Tether, made in Toronto, forces players to work together on the fly, yet still try to win by grabbing the most points, all while being chained together.
Turnover will be playable on the Splintercade, a mixed material display platform that’s placed face-up on the floor, which will be hilariously disorienting as the game is all about rapid changes in gravity and vertigo-inducing directional shifts. Thankfully there’s a vomit-proof plastic barrier on the screen.
TowerFall: Ascension from Vancouver-based indie developer Matt Thorson needs no introduction — it’s just the best competitive-skill-based-archery-combat-fun-fest out there.
3. Three DJs and no MC
I can’t wait to get my feet moving to the electronic beats and ambient sounds of Ryan Henwood, DualRyan (Ryan Roth), and Coins (Peter Chapman, pictured above), who all happen to be from Toronto! This will be a great chance for fans of locally made indie hits like Asteroid Base’s Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, droqen’s Starseed Pilgrim, and DrinkBox Studios’ Mutant Blobs Attack! (respectively) to hear how these musicians sound live. For newcomers to gaming culture, I think they’ll be able to appreciate how approachable (and danceable) this music can be.
4. Interstellar Selfie Station: PRINT CLUB EDITION
Christine Love is best known for visual novels like Analogue: A Hate Story, but in this collaboration with Toronto-based hardware hacker extraordinaire Nadine Lessio, they’ve created an interactive installation that’s reminiscent of Japanese selfie booths that print stickers with your photo. With the ISS, folks will get a taste of this “print club” craze with a gaming-inspired twist: the images print out as pixelated two-bit art.
5. Collective storytelling
With The Yawhg (pictured above) and Tenya Wanya Teens, FVP attendees get the chance to collaborate in telling a story together. The Yawhg by Toronto’s Damian Sommer and Ontario artist Emily Carroll challenges players to take turns in telling the story of a medieval village that is about to be attacked by a doomsday monster.
Tenya Wanya Teens from Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi is a more light-hearted and wacky coming-of-age tale — it’s about finding the right button (out of 16) to press to get your avatars to brush their teeth, take a shower, act like a grizzly bear, and so on.
Miss out on tickets to the Fancy Videogame Party? You can still get your game fix at the AGO, where HES’s Munroe is currently an artist-in-residence and has pulled together a video game culture installation in the Gallery’s Community Gallery.