Last week, Susana Ruiz, creator of Darfur is Dying and co-founder of Take Action Games, attended Indiecade 2010. Being an indie game designer and a new addition to the Games for Change advisory board, we wanted to get her opinion on the independent gaming scene, and The Cat and the Coup, winner of the “Documentary Award.” (Check out our interview with The Cat and the Coup creators here.)
Games for Change: 1. The Cat and the Coup won the “Documentary Award,” which was a new category at Indiecade. Do you think that as games become more popular, we’ll see more games that represent a time, place and social issues? Much like your game “Darfur is Dying?”
Susana Ruiz: It’s fantastic that IndieCade now has a “Documentary Award”! It is precisely within a community of independent creators where there will be uniqueness of vision coupled with the choice to address non-fiction. I think people are starting to become very interested in the possibility of designing such games and in playing them. There will be a lot of different approaches and we should embrace diversity, as I suspect that the idea of communicating lived experiences will attract folks to games and gaming that may not already be in the space.
Documentary is a rich form and, as practiced by media makers past and present, may operate on a variety of registers. They can be historical, informative, essayistic, personal, abstract, expressionistic, and so on (note the seminal work by theorists Bill Nichols and Michael Renov, among others). Documentary may advocate, emphasize, interpret, bring to question, or complicate. “The Cat and the Coup” reminds us of a range of possibilities, as it has a good deal of historical material for the player to absorb and interpret on her own terms, and it is evocative in tone. It is a beautiful documentary game.
2. If Indiecade offered a Documentary Award this year, do you think that can make way for other awards? Maybe “Best Social Impact Game?” What categories would you like to see at next year’s Indiecade?
The IndieCade Awards list is pretty great. It’s hard to think of how to extend it (now that there is a documentary award). As you note, “Best Social Impact” game would be fantastic because the more spaces that exist where games addressing social issues and cultivating social impact can be experienced, shared and discussed, the more the community will evolve and mature as well as the better the games themselves will become.
Perhaps “Community Award”? As there are a number of folks doing good work using games in their communities, either as tools for learning and/or as a means for expression and skill building. How about an “Educator Award” for that group of special people that passionately share their knowledge and experience in order to nurture the next crop of game makers?
For more about Susana’s work at Take Action Games, check out their website:
To check out the full list of Indiecade 2010 winners, go here: