From the very second I walked under the awnings of the Perth Town Hall, I was coloured sufficiently hype to make a rainbow look dull. I hadn’t even entered the hall proper and I could see COGZ being played with oversized puzzle pieces. A quick jog up the stairs (complete with bleeping motion sensors), and the scale of the event set in. The room was packed with screens and controllers, people clumped together in small groups to help wade through the crowd – and here I was, hoping to see as much as I could in five and a half hours. The game was on!
The turnout for the event exceeded all expectations, but you wouldn’t know it from the lack of lines. The hall was solidly packed for the entire day as everyone shuffled in and out, but there was enough on show to keep everyone entertained and dispersed. Everything from mobile games to business ventures were in a booth somewhere, even tabletop games had a section. On top of that, the whole room was a game in itself, with the tried and true collect-all-the-badges system being employed at select booths. Regardless of if they had a pin or not, all the booths offered something to pique your interest.
The number of indie games on show was fantastic, showcasing the growing community Perth was fostering. Strifire showed off their newest offering, Dead End Alley, using a mini-chainsaw and an Oculus Rift, because who doesn’t want to tear zombies in two with a chainsaw? Just next to them, Gnomic Studios held games of Square Heroes all day with whoever wanted to join in. As you followed the wall, you could try out great games such as Black Lab Games’ Star Hammer, a sci-fi strategy game requiring careful thinking and foresight, or Alex Parker’s Space Strafer, a ‘one-finger shooter’ with twitch heavy gameplay.
If you felt like part of the more mature audiences (age-wise, not necessarily in spirit), the festival had no problem catering for you. For the bloodthirsty, there were games such as Valiant by Offpeak Games, a medieval lancing simulator designed for the Oculus Rift, and Gadget Games’ Down To One, a multiplayer survival game where (wait for it) only one player can survive. For those with a taste in darker humour was Oscar Brittain’s Leave ‘Em Laughing, a Seinfeld inspired joke-making game, and Jacob Janerka’s ever inappropriate Paradigm, a surreal experience where bulbous heads and Russian accents are king. Then again, if you didn’t want your son waxing lyrical about well-groomed sloths and overpriced coffee, then the festival could help you out.
Other, more family friendly games were scattered throughout the hall, away from the dangerous influences of murder and horses. A small gem I found was AltF4 Interactive’s Rift Runner, a mobile game where you play as a hermit crab jumping from rock to rock while trying not to get caught in the oncoming current. Given their own section at the back, SK Games’ unique brand of party games were on display for anyone who wanted to jump in, including a few parents and kids. Even educational games were getting room on the floor, such as Craig Spellman’s Numbeat, a mathematical game backed by psychological research in learning. If you were willing to let your child off the leash, the adults could indulge in some old-school tabletop too.
Off in the corner, allowed to brood in darkness like a DM behind his cheat-screen, were the tabletop games. The ever popular COGZ by Raez, a puzzle game about linking up coloured pipes, was a crowd favourite. Nearby was Sharkpunch Studios showing off The Awesome System, a role-playing system tailor made for punching sharks while busting out a guitar solo on a Harley Davidson. There were a whole lot more games on the floor (check out the full list here), but the festival catered to the other side of games too.
Supporting young developers can be difficult in Perth since there’s not much in the way of established companies, and we’re extremely isolated from anywhere that has any. Thankfully, the festival offered a number of resources to aspiring devs, including a booth from Murdoch showcasing games made by students and information about their games courses. There was also a booth for FTI, focused on spreading information about their game-centric workshops and programs. On top of these, the festival hosted three panels, all aimed at offering information to developers or parents.
Overall, the event was a fantastic display of everything the Perth scene had to offer. It was a great introduction for anyone who hadn’t seen anything from the local scene and a wonderful event to see the latest works coming out. Whether you were a player, dev, parent, or complete noob, the festival had something to cater for you. Congrats to everyone involved, we can’t wait til next year!