The Choosatron was nominated for the WTF! award at A Maze in Berlin. I honestly didn’t think we’d make it over there (Megan, my acting project manager, and myself), but by the grace and generosity of the friends and supporters of the Choosatron we made it happen! THANK YOU ALL, so freakin’ much. Now about the festival!
A Maze itself was as the title suggests, amazing. We managed to find a cheap AirBnB across the street from the venue which made setup, attending, and teardown stress free. Much of our interactions were with Thorsten S. Wiedemann, the Festival Director, and Lorenzo Pilia, the Program Manager, who were a blast to work with, and people I now consider friends. All the organizers were a pleasure, and after a stressful (but good!) event like GDC, it was so great to be at a festival where everyone was there to purely enjoy the unique games and experiences. I even got to do a talk with Lorenzo at Up.Front before the festival! (links pertaining to our talk are here)
I was excited to show off a prototype of the mini-arcade Choosatron which was in much better shape than at GDC. We built a small platform where the coins would drop and people could slide them back out so we didn’t have to retrieve them. There were four Choosatrons setup, and a fifth I had setup with a battery so I could wander with it. Megan and I were able to relax a lot more during the event, not having to babysit the Choosatrons like at GDC, constantly selling the concept with the same speech over and over, which actually allowed me to code some new features on the fly from feedback during the event. My favorite was randomized story menus, so I could put the same 20+ stories on each device, and when you started it up, it picked four to select from. Getting to walk around and enjoy everything else the festival had to offer was brilliant, like the Oculus build of Super Hot, or the virtual beheading simulator! Of course, hanging out to chat with players was wonderful. The people at A Maze were ready to play new things and didn’t need a lot of explanation, which took a lot of pressure off. Not to mention there were a lot of fantastic game designers to chat with, like the wild and crazy Sos of McPixel and other wonderful work! He found a story loop and couldn’t help himself, and he was so damn happy about it I couldn’t help but enjoy his glee!
We found out there was an Audience Choice award along with the other three, including the WTF!. There was a large board, and all the attendees got a single pink sticker to place under their favorite game. I didn’t expect much up against heavy hitters like Nidhogg or Super Hot, plus many other great games, but Choosatron was actually getting some love! I’ll admit, I wanted to win something. Along with the Choosatron, my friend Kyle Reimergartin had his game Fjords nominated in the same category. After playing all the games it was obvious he deserved the award, which made me happy. I mean, if I’m not going to (selfishly) win, I want the brilliant game by a brilliant friend to win! And he did!
It was neck and neck for a while, but eventually Choosatron won out! We had the pleasure of accepting the Audience Choice award, which was overwhelming enough, but after falling in love with the community there it felt like the ultimate acceptance of work I’d already put countless hours into, as well as MANY donated hours from friends, volunteers, and my amazing partner Megan Dowd. In the end, awards aren’t that important. I just needed a boost at the time, to feel like people cared, and dammit they really did. An award is just one way to realize that, but there are many other ways that are probably healthier to seek. 🙂 I will, however, cherish that weird cube of silicone sex rubber, pinball, and cement because of that inspiring community.
A Maze wasn’t the only reason we were in Berlin actually. The other was to deliver five Choosatrons to the Game Science Center where they will be part of a unique game exhibit. I’m honored that they wanted Choosatron to be part of the wonderful, and challenging space they are designing! I also didn’t realize how strong the interactive fiction community is in Berlin, and Germany as a whole. I can’t wait to come back, as there are obviously a lot of opportunities to collaborate with like-minded creative people.
I managed to catchup with my friends Adriel Wallick and Rami Ismail during their brief stay in Berlin! Most of you probably already know, but they are two majorly good people. Brilliant and all that, but sincerely lovely human beings. I got to know them each independently, without knowing who they were, or even that they were connected to each other! I felt like such a dolt in each occasion. 🙂
It was my first time in Berlin, and I am in love with it.