fourth ever IGDA-sponsored 'Demo Night' took place August 23rd 2006, in
New York City. Established by members from both the New York City and
New Jersey chapters of the IGDA (the Independent Game Developers
Association) as an outlet for local game creators to show off recent
projects, as well as a chance to meet and greet their peers, the events
have taken place every couple of months or so, and in a little over a
year and a half, they have become quite the big deal.
so? Simply because it's a chance to strut one's stuff in front of (and
hopefully make a splash among) the colorful cast that makes up the New
York game development scene. It's an odd, yet even mix of big name;
established folks like gameLab's Eric Zimmerman and Manifesto Games'
Greg Costikiyan, both of whom have become poster children of sorts of
the game scene and its ways, others who are just getting into the game
of making games, some of whom are minty fresh with a pocketful of VC
money (and others who are looking for some), students from assorted
colleges in the area who are all working on the next big Alternative
Reality Game, along with a few members of the faculty, and everyone in
They're all packed into a small space,
with some beer and some chips, to check out what's new and what's
coming down the pipe. The event is just like the people: unpredictable,
underground, independent... though like many scenes, certain trends and
facets are becoming starting to become more and more easily
identifiable, almost expected, each year, for better or worse.
But this past Demo Night was a bit different. First off, its
become so big that a change in venue was finally in order (the
first three Demo Nights all took place in the offices of Large
Animal Games, one of the largest game companies operating in Manhattan
today, which by west coast standards might seem a bit paltry),
so New York University lent one of their many buildings throughout
the island as a meeting space. There was also a changing of the
guards to kick things off; both Eric Zimmerman and Greg Costikyan,
who have both been in charge of the NY chapter of the IGDA for
years now, both stepped down from their posts and welcomed the
new head, Wade Tinney, who not only runs Large Animal Games, the
place where previous Demo Nights took place, but was a key figure
in their inception and execution.
reiterated what Demo Night was all about: building a community for game
creators who may be working on their own, but are all sharing the same
experiences, and to be act as a forum so they can seek help and learn
from each other. And after all was said and done, there were the games.
Five in all, and again, given the flavor of the NYC scene, some of what
was shown was somewhat expected. And some was not.
The clear hit game of the evening came from completely out of
left field. It wasn't from some up and coming company that's
just gotten in-flux of venture capitalist funding due to it tapping
into what's hot right now, nor does it utilize some cutting
edge technology to break untested gameplay waters. The game in
question was The Shivah, from Dave Gilbert, an unknown
in the New York circles (until that evening that is). The game
in questions is simply a graphic adventure, in the tradition of Monkey
Island and Gabriel Knight, with the twist being
that it deals heavily with the Jewish faith.
Dave first went up front to address the audience, he asked "Are there
any Jews in the audience?" which got some chuckles, and a show of some
hands. Dave went over a brief explanation of the game, then a film-like
trailer was shown. After the gruesome murder which ended the clip, Dave
responded with "Yeah, the Jews get that". Again, more laughs.
The Shivah stars Rabbi Russell Stone, who receives a
large sum of money from a former member of his congregation who
had passed away. Instead of putting the funds towards his synagogue
which on the verge of closing down, Stone decides to investigate
the circumstance relating to his death, which takes him all across
Manhattan to uncover the truth, which reveals a conspiracy that
shakes the foundation of the Jewish church.