Pass the pop culture...

Last month I was in Seattle for the first time on a mini-vacation when on the way to the well-worn tourist trap of the Space Needle, I passed by a peculiar looking building with banners not unlike the cover art for Fez outside advertising “Indie Game Revolution – Presented by Nintendo.” The building was none other than Seattle’s pop culture hive, the EMP Museum.

EMP Museum Indie Game Revolution

Multiple generations enjoying indie games at the EMP Museum’s Indie Game Revolution exhibit

Take my money

As if an indie game museum exhibit wasn’t enough to pique my interest, the next banner revealed another exhibit I’d be stupid to not to check out during my brief visit to Seattle: Star Wars and the Power of Costume. That’s right, I fulfilled my childhood dreams of standing in the same room as Han Solo and Darth Vader, or at least the clothes that the actors wore on set. After a walk around the costumes taking some photos (and not paying too much attention to the Episode I-III guff) I headed straight for the Indie Game Revolution exhibit room.

Decorated with clusters of 3D pixels bathed in an indigo glow (what better ambiance for a gaming lounge?) the Indie Game Revolution exhibit wasn’t enormous, but fittingly cozy to house demo stations for around 20 games. The walls had infographics on the history of video games, the breakdown of how games are made (plan, create, release) as well as what separates indies from the rest of the games industry. The visitors weren’t your typical gamer demographic of 18-35 year old males, either (though a lot of the Star Wars costume visitors could be found here too). Kids had dragged their parents along to try games with them, couples were laughing as they attempted to figure out co-op gameplay. This was no bloated press event under the stage lights with trailers full of explosions, just people learning about new games through the experience of playing them.

EMP Museum Indie Game Revolution Sailor's Dream

A chill hangout in The Sailor’s Dream

Play me

There were a few games that I was already familiar with or already had in my Steam library. Nidhogg was spraying pixellated guts all over the screen in one corner, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth had grotesque enemies chasing the little pink protagonist around an earthen maze. Some of the more interesting titles I tried were tablet games, such as the nautical text explorer The Sailor’s Dream by Sweden-based two-man developer team Simogo. Described as a “narrative dream labyrinth and illustrated short story collection,” I was so enthralled by the poetry and art style that I had to eject myself from the game in fear of making myself late for dinner that evening. The other title that left me wanting was Typoman, currently in development for the Wii U. This game took the puzzle platformer to greener pastures with word play and a dark Limbo-like atmosphere.

EMP Museum Indie Game Revolution

Indigo glow. The optimal ambiance for a gaming lounge

What I took away from the Indie Game Revolution exhibit was so much more than getting to sample indie games. We’ve seen filmmakers try to capture the culture both successfully and unsuccessfully, and as such as this may be comparing apples with oranges, but reaching a smaller audience that can actually experience your indie game seems a lot more effective. That’s the reason why Indiecade is so popular at E3 and the Indie Megabooth has turned so many heads at expos like PAX.

The best way to join the Indie Game Revolution is to experience it first hand. Seattle may be a tad far to travel for a lot of you, but indie game expos are popping up all the time, in a city near you.