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The Boston Festival of Indie Games Encourages the Next Generation of Designers in the Northeast

By S. Mathur

Indie games are the creative cutting edge of the gaming industry, and the Boston Festival of Indie Games shows why indie developers are so important to the gaming industry as a whole. Caroline Murphy, CEO, says that "Indie development is a fantastic breeding ground for innovation and experimental ideas. Indies have the freedom to try new things and push games forward." Founded in 2012, the festival has quickly found a place on the calendars of gaming enthusiasts and designers.

The BostonFIG is a non-profit registered in Massachusetts, with the goal to encourage and showcase the next generation of talented game makers throughout the northeast. For visitors to the festival, says Murphy, this means that they "can play games of all sorts created by independent game designers and developers from here in Mass and beyond!" By bringing together game designers and their publics, the festival promotes the mutual awareness that can be an asset in the design process.

The festival is family friendly and since these are indie games, and it can be safely assumed that they will be kid-friendly, without profanity or gratuitous violence. This is one of the strong points of the festival, Murphy feels: "We love the fact that BostonFIG is a family-friendly oriented event. We care about involving the community and showing kids that game design and development is a viable career path, and that they can start making games right now!" Kids under the age of 13 get free admission.

Exhibitors can display and sell games and goods at the show. They are encouraged to think of BostonFIG as a kind of farmer's market for their products. Games have to be at the Alpha stage of development, and the developers retain all rights. All income from sales goes to developers as well. A major benefit for developers is that they get immediate feedback on their games. In the family-friendly space, players come from all demographics, including four-year olds who seem to be naturals. Such interactions can help designers assess how their games will be received.

Game categories in this year 's digital showcase included Accessibility and Inclusion, Art and Experimental, Compelling Game Loops, Epic Scope and Gameplay, Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay, New Developers and Student Games and Worldbuilding and Narrative. The theme for table top games was The Cultural Mosaic, showcasing games representative of specific cultures.

The festival also has youth programs focused on game development. Exhibitors and visitors are encouraged to design and play games in different formats including video games, location-based games, tabletop games and more. The BostonFIG maintains youth and small-business outreach year-round and the annual festival represents the culmination of these efforts to promote game development in New England. The festival is held on the MIT campus and is best reached via public transportation.

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