TIFF 2012 - Renga - Featured

TIFF 2012: Renga and the Nexus Mini-Arcade

TIFF Nexus brings video games to the film fest.

TIFF 2012 - Renga

Looking for a TIFF activity that doesn’t involve a two-hour rush line?

Try checking out the TIFF Nexus Mini-Arcade, currently on display in the Metro Hall Rotunda (55 John St.) across the street from the TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre in Toronto. The exhibit runs for the duration of the festival and infuses the proceedings with a bit of local gaming flavour with help from a slew of prominent developers. All of the games are free to play and ask only that you open your mind to something new.

And no, you shouldn’t be surprised to see an official gaming presence at the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF Nexus is a creative initiative that deliberately set out to explore the connections between games, film, and new media, and the results of those in-house efforts are now on display at the Mini-Arcade. It might not be long before interactive programming is a core part of every major film festival.

The Mini-Arcade itself features more than a dozen titles from past Nexus jams, with themes ranging from The Peripherals Initiative to Comics vs. Games. Each project introduces something new – it could be a new perspective, a new technology, or a new idea – and consequently offers intriguing glimpses into the future of interactive media. Stop by between 4-6pm on Saturday the 14th, and some of the developers will even be on hand to answer questions and talk about their projects.

If you’re looking for something a bit more formal, TIFF Nexus is also presenting RENGA, a one hundred player co-op game described as an “improvisational dance…with freakin’ laser beams.” Peter Kuplowsky, an assistant with TIFF Nexus, pitches RENGA like this:

“Armed with a laser-pointer, you and ninety-nine fellow laser warriors are tasked with building and managing the resources of a battered spaceship, whilst defending it from an encroaching on-screen alien force.”

RENGA, in other words, is exactly the sort of multi-media project that demonstrates why TIFF is looking to expand beyond a single medium. It’s a full-scale theatrical experience in which the audience determines the outcome, blurring the traditional lines between cinema and gaming.


“[RENGA] is no TimePlay multiplex shtick. This is a genuine interactive gaming experience that’s both challenging, engaging and even tells a story – a story that you, the audience, shapes.”

If that sounds like your particular brand of mayhem, RENGA is happening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday, Sept. 14th at 9:30pm and Saturday, Sept. 15th at 12:45pm. Don’t worry. Laser pointers will be provided at the screenings. RENGA creators Adam Russell and John Sear will be serving as the moderators during the Toronto sessions and will be answering questions following the game.

The Mini-Arcade, meanwhile, is a more casual happening, the perfect ten-minute detour if you’re hanging out downtown. Be sure to check it out while you still have the chance, or head to tiffnexus.net to learn more about the TIFF Nexus initiative.