DID YOU READ

IndieCade: What I’ll Be Doing This Weekend

IndieCade: What I’ll Be Doing This Weekend (photo)

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The premier international celebration of indie game design kicks off today. As I type, I’m in the air, wending my way to lovely Culver City to take in three days of what promises to be awesome hands-on and panel talks. Here’s what I’m looking forward to from the programming:


Punk Rock M*****F*****
Brandon Boyer, Frank Lantz, Richard Lemarchand, John Sharp

Game culture is often thought of as naive, disposable and operating in a cultural vacuum, isolated from everything other than genre fiction and Japanese pop culture. Brandon Boyer, Frank Lantz, Richard Lemarchand and John Sharp beg to differ, and offer punk rock as a case in point. Punk demonstrates the ways in which pop culture can be simultaneously exuberant, naive, primal, critical, disposable and savvy, sophisticated, intellectual, and culturally self-aware, and is therefore a wonderful inspiration for videogames. These four old school punks will talk about the overt and hidden connections between games, punk rock, and the arts.
[Boyer’s the recently appointed head of the Independent Games Festival. Lantz runs NYC dev studio Area/Code and is the acting chair of New York University’s Game Center. I love that they’re tackling the idea of the naïf game designer and can’t wait to see how punk rock this talk gets.]

Discovering Multiplayer Dynamics in Journey
Jenova Chen and Robin Hunicke

In ThatGameCompany’s upcoming title Journey, players meet and travel with strangers through a vast landscape. Players cannot speak to each other via voice or chat… which means that they must communicate in other ways. In this talk we will share some of the early prototypes that inspired our decision, discuss challenges we’ve encountered, and demonstrate the resulting dynamics in Journey itself.
[Jenova Chen’s the design heart of ThatGameCompany and the man responsible for the touching, brilliant Flower, while Hunicke’s brought her sharp game sensibilities to fun, simple game like “Boom Blox”. I’ve been waiting to see “Journey” for months, so this should be great.]

Project Next
Jonathan Blow, Ian Bogost, Alex Neuse, Paolo Pedercini, Chris Hecker, and moderated by John Sharp

Want a sneak peak at the next wave of indie games? To see how finalists and ground-breaking indies are following up their successes? Project Next is a series of quick previews of unreleased games by a wide range of indie developers. Confirmed speakers include Jonathan Blow (Braid), Ian Bogost (A Slow Year), Chris Hecker (Spy Party), Alex Neuse (BIT.TRIP RUNNER) and Paolo Pedercini (Every Day the Same Dream).

[This one speaks for itself. New games from top designers, at their most unfiltered.]

Interactive Storytelling Goes Indie
Erik Loyer, Jamie Antonisse, and more, moderated by Dan Pinchbeck

When you think of story and games, the first things that might come to mind are big-budget AAA titles and their reliance on cinematic conventions, genre and fancy graphics. The indie scene is also quietly working away at the enigmatic story-game problem, but in ways that differ from the mainstream industry. Erik Loyer (Ruben & Lullaby, Blue Velvet) and Dan Pinchbeck of the Chinese Room (Korsakovia, Dear Esther) will discuss their work and opinions about melding game and story, the tensions and connections between the two, and why the indie scene is likely to pave the way for great interactive storytelling.

[Indie games don’t have to worry about pandering to the middle and it’s paid off in the stark immersion of titles like Limbo. Hopefully, this talk will show that more risks are to come.]

If you’re in the LA area, come out and check out IndieCade. Find info about getting tickets at the official site.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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