Many of us dealt with the lockdown and the subsequent social distancing rules by escaping into digital worlds. The video game industry experienced a boom in sales as soon as the pandemic hit and also other means of virtual storytelling are now closer to the mainstream than ever before. Together with veteran indie games curator Thorsten Wiedemann [de] and VR storyteller Pierre Friquet [fr], we will discuss the effects of the pandemic on the video game and virtual reality scenes and the implications for society as a whole. Do the strong sales figures also benefit the indie scene with its developers, artists, and supporters – or is it just the multi-national companies that profit from the needs of social distancing? We’ll try to shed some light on the complex realities of a medium that simultaneously isolates people while inventing new forms of togetherness, a medium that is shunned for mindless violence by some while being accepted as a veritable form of art by others.
Join the online discussion on Sunday, Oct 4 on Facebook and the Clujotronic website.
Thorsten Wiedemann [de] is one of the most renowned and influential figures in the European independent games scene. Since its inception, he is the founder and director of the annual A MAZE. festival for art games and playful media in Berlin. Under this international label, he produces and curates festivals, exhibitions and workshops around the world. He also works as a DJ and famously survived a 48 hour stay in virtual reality.
Pierre Friquet [fr] is a digital artist, creating immersive games and experiences. His intent is to make people reconnect with their body and sense of self, through art and technology. Passionate of virtual reality since 2010, he has designed more than a dozen XR experiences (interactive, fiction, documentaries, dome, music videos) and worked with renowned artists like Jean Michel Jarre. His latest original VR work is SPACED OUT, selected at Sundance New Frontier 2020.
Andrei Istrate [ro] is one of the most active promoters of the Romanian video game scene. He has long been on the board of the Romanian Game Developers Association (RGDA), an organization which he continues to support as an official advisor of the board. With his GameDev Academy, he puts a special focus on educating the upcoming generations of game developers in Romania. He is now Studio Manager for Ubisoft Craiova.