Friday, October 5, 2012

The International Festival of Independent Games Is Weird And I Am There

At Indiecade....

So are you a game developer?

Um, well, kinda, I wrote umm...well ok have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons?


Well I actually wrote a book...


There was a lot of that.

Also: snacks.

Then one guy told me about a video game he wrote where you play the pilot of an unmanned assassination drone and another guy told me he wrote a video game about having a cart.

There was a red carpet which was remarkably like the Adult Video Awards carpet except they asked me about my D&D book instead of asking Mandy about boobs. Also probably there is not now a thread with 900 people complaining about how Mandy's dressed in the photos taken on said carpet.

Then there was Felicia Day who I am told by Mandy and Izzy is an important game person and she told jokes on a stage and introduced more game people.

There was a lot of bantering and cheering for things I think were games I never heard of like someone would say "Trains!" and then people would be all YAY TRAINS! And I guess that there is a game called Trains, about which I know nothing except it appears to be somewhat unambitiously named.

There was a lot of "Have you heard about 'Blink'?" No "Smop?" No "Smiggle Wars?" No... Well I worked on Smop last year and this year I am doing Smiggle Wars II. Ok.

Then there was awards in categories...


Game Design
Story/World Design
Special Recognition 


And Vornheim gets the award for...



According to the site

The craft of game development is inseparable from the medium in which it exists. This award honors the use of the medium to create an expression that simply couldn’t have been possible otherwise. A iPad game that leverages multi-touch input as an integral aspect of the experience, or a game that builds upon a computer’s processing abilities to make a digital work that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, this award honors bold and unexpected experiments with the affordances of the medium that transform technology to magic. 

Well alright then.

You heard that right, buddy: MAGIC. 

So, Vornheim:

Lost the OSR's 3 Castles award to Stars Without Number, lost the Diana Jones award to LARPing Swedes, lost the Ennies to a bunch of dungeon tiles, and beat a bunch of video games using 3d rendering, lasers, projections, touch screens and Kinect hardware for a technology award.

Also, they tell me: the vote was unanimous.

I gave a brief acceptance speech wherein I apologized to all the computer programmers and offered to switch awards with them.

Go figure.

p.s. Buy the book it has magical powers.


Dr Vesuvius said...

Congrats. To be honest, I kinda get how they thought the award was appropriate... paper is a technology, just a very, very old one. So is rolling small polyhedral shapes to intepret the results, or the concept of portraying a physical space by means of a symbolic 2d form (or "maps" to the common folk). Vornheim had some pretty original ways of using those three technologies.

Either that or the committee's discussion went something like...

"Hey that Zak guy's pretty cool, we should.. like... give him an award or some junk."
"Ahhh...ummm.. oh fuck it, all this years video games are just full of boring lasers and rendering and shit, give him the technology award. He uses the interwebs, right?"

Wayne Snyder said...

Congratulations. I have to agree. Vornheim is certainly a clever little book.

Jack said...

I can dig it. It's revolutionary in the way it uses book-things in service to game-things.

PlanetNiles said...

Felicia Day is the gateway to making that Zak Smith + Wil Wheaton + Nathan Fillion + Vin Diesel game (that I fantasise about) happen. ;)

Gratz on the award. You deserve it (and more besides)!

Patrick Mallah said...

Grats! And I bought it already. (Though I'm still waiting for the print copy to arrive in my mailbox.)

GRIM said...

This is wonderful news. This is just the sort of thing we need to happen and why I've long said I think you guys are one of the best things to happen in the hobby for a long time.


David Pretty said...

Awesome news, Zak. "Vornheim" deserves many awards, even the inexplicable ones!

Brad said...

My copy came yesterday; looking forward to reading it.

Adam Dickstein said...

Congrats Zak! I thought at first you were going to say that they thought it was technically well executed or something similar. That I could totally understand.

Technology? The definition may be loose but the product is solid. Good for you.

Unknown said...

Congrats! I have some friend headed to indiecade this weekend, I've pointed them towards Vornheim.

If it was Train they were talking about, it might have been in reference to this:

It's interesting to me how big the culture of gaming is that icons in one part are unheard of in the other, but it's all still games.

joe said...

I... I think I have to buy the book now... FOR TECHNOLOGY.

Hartful said...

As far as "independent" designed gaming products go vornhiem is a technical masterpiece look at the freaking layout it's genious. Something like that is tied closely to the whole indie thing. What big company product throws out normal layout treads for something innovate and fresh with a risk of being completely rejected? Still that category is halarious.. Hope they got your speach recorded somewhere

scrap princess said...


oliof said...

I agree on the technology though – I bought Vornheim as a PDF + book bundle and the PDF didn't work for me, but the book was like "woah drop tables!" for me.

Nathaniel Eliot said...

Zak, the shit you do here and elsewhere is a big throbbing new-tech revolution. It's just that the revolution is using cheap, ubiquitous, simple technology more than esoteric, expensive, and challenging technology.

Vornheim . . . is kind of a by-blow of everything there. The reward was for I Hit It With My Axe, and ConstantCon, and so on. The book just happened to be the touch-point they could actually give an award on.


James said...


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Books are too a technology.

Daniel Dean said...

Magic Robot Book.

Knightsky said...

Congratulation on your magi-tech book.

(as an aside, it was something of a surprise to find you quoted in the most recent issue of Men's Fitness magazine - wasn't expecting that, to be honest).

Jonas said...

This does not suprise me in slightest that videogame designers would love procedural generation of content. Also I have been saying for long before cool kids that design of Vornheim is solid when others have yammered about it being punk or something.

Rafu said...

Best award ever! :D