Ashly Burch
Ashly BurchVoice Actor/Writer
Sarah Elmaleh
Sarah ElmalehActor

An Actor’s Truth, the Future of Indies and the End of the AAA Everyman

It’s a thrilling time for independent games: leading the medium in formal experimentation and diversity of representation, they are rapidly expanding our perception of what games can be, and who can both make and be depicted in them. In recent years, they’ve swiped peer-given award nominations from bigger, more established developers, many of whom cite indies as inspiration for their work – or for going indie themselves. Many independent games have even become household names, as widely recognizable as Call of Duty or Halo.

At the heart of this revolution is bravery and a faith that the colorful, the offbeat, and the particular will resonate with players – more so than a fear-based, marketing department-driven emphasis on the familiar, the bland and the catchall. This is particularly evident in the recent generation of indie game protagonists.
Where AAA has too often defaulted to a flawed conception of a hypergeneric ‘everyman’ – usually a stoic, gun-toting, thirty-something white male brunette – indies’ motley crew of heroes embrace boldly specific character detail as the basis for human (player) connection.

Sarah and Ash would like to point out that indies’ special commitment to the specific over the generic is also the long-standing foundation to creating a good performance as an actor.

We will share aspects of our performance and character development process to connect strong acting decisions with this principle of inviting specificity. We’ll discuss the principle at play in modern successful indies with previously underrepresented protagonists, such as Gone Home, Mainichi and others. We’ll take a look back to debunk the legacy of games as exclusive purview of white male teenagers, and explore the impact of genre trends on representation – tying the current fracturing, reimagining and cross-pollination of genres to the flourishing of character diversity.

The future of indies is the future of games, which looks much like the present and in some ways the past – but even more fearlessly, joyfully crowded with diverse empathic opportunities.

Ashly Burch and Sarah Elmaleh are actors and game voiceover artists/siblings. Ashly is lead actress and co-writer/creator of hit web series Hey Ash Whatcha Playin’? and can be heard in games such as Borderlands 2 and Gravity Ghost, Children of Liberty, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Saints Row 4, Awesomenauts, Towerfall and Guided Fate Paradox. You can also hear her goofin’ in cartoons such as Adventure Time, Bee and Puppy Cat and Attack on Titan. Sarah’s indie game roles include goody two-shoes older sisters, often to Ash (Gone Home, Gravity Ghost, Children of Liberty), a strong-yet-vulnerable Latina doctor (Resonance), a cranky flapper (Blackwell Epiphany), an eager British spy handler (Codename Cygnus), fiercely opposing Japanese goddesses (Skulls of the Shogun), and your classic insidious shipboard computers (Gemini Rue and Redshirt).

Ashly Burch is a voice actor, writer and raps about representation and issues of gender and identity in the games industry. Well, she doesn’t actually rap, she

just speaks about it. She thought saying the word “rap” would make her culturally relevant. She realizes she’s failing. Ashly is best known as the star, writer and co-creator for the web series “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?” and as the voice of Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2. She is also the voice of Sasha Braus in Attack on Titan. You can (or will soon be able to) hear her in these other fine pieces of entertainment: Adventure Time, Bee and Puppy Cat, Awesomenauts, Chainsaw Richard, Saints Row 4, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Guided Fate Paradox, Gravity Ghost, Children of Liberty, and Seedlings. You can see her flail about on screen in Baked Goods, Board With Life, and School of Thrones.

Sarah Elmaleh is an actor who loves to voice games, and also chat animatedly about them. (That’s not a pun. She sees now how it could look like one, but she

would never do that to you on purpose.) She can be heard in a motley collection of indie titles including Gone Home, Skulls of the Shogun, Johann Sebastian Joust, Redshirt, Resonance, Gemini Rue, Codename Cygnus, Children of Liberty, and soon, Gravity Ghost. She’s also written about games at outlets such as Kill Screen and Kotaku, helped curate Boston FIG and Kill Screen’s OUYA contest, and spoken about games and voiceover at the Tribeca Film Festival, the SAG Foundation, PAX Prime, and the NJ Institute of Technology.

Check back for the full event schedule and more 2014 speakers as they are confirmed!

Kara Stone
Kara StoneVoice Artist

Kara Stone – Mental Health and Video Games

Mental Health and Video games will explore depictions of mental illness in video games and the possibility of affective games. Most mainstream video

games represent mental illness as evil; something to be feared and killed. As “personal games” become more and more popular, many indie developers are creating video games about their experiences with mental illness and emotions. Kara Stone will illustrate the experiences of creating a game, Medication Meditation, about her own mental health, her approach to body interactivity, and the impact it has had on her life and others.

Kara Stone is an art-maker interested in video games, interactive arts and traditional crafting. She achieved an MA in Communication and Culture at a joint program at York and Ryerson University, focusing on mental health, affect, feminism, and video games. Creating games such as Medication Meditation, Cyborg Goddess, and Sext Adventure, her work has been featured in Vice, Wired, The Atlantic, and NPR. All her work is feminist art with a focus on gendered perspectives of affect but is much more fun than it sounds.

Lindsay D. Grace
Lindsay D. GraceDesigner/Developer

Lindsay D. Grace – Affection Games: Loving Your Way into the Hearts of Players

This presentation outlines the rarely discussed world of affection games. Affection games require players to flirt, hug, kiss, and make love to meet their

goals. Unsurprisingly these games are largely made by indies. As an academic researcher Lindsay D. Grace has conducted the most comprehensive analysis of these games, studying more than 100 digital affection games in detail. In a world trying to realize game potentials and undo years of negative press, affection games offer a refreshing change. But, affection games are not all teddy bear hugs and sneaking kisses. The presentation outlines the variety of affection games providing attendees with a comprehensive understanding of this emerging, indie game genre.

Lindsay D. Grace is the designer and developer behind one of the strangest and most loved affection games, Big Huggin’, involving a giant 32-inch teddy bear controller. Also, he was born and raised in New Bedford, MA, so he holds a special place in my heart for the Boston Festival of Indie Games.

Maddy Myers
Maddy MyersJournalist

Maddy Myers – Indie Marketing 101: Advice From A Games Journalist

Games journalist Maddy Myers has been working for press outlets since 2007. She wants to give indie game makers the tools they need to tell her — and other

journalists — about their games. She will go over press releases that actually worked (as well as ones that didn’t), social media dos and don’ts, and other advice for indies who are worried about “pestering” games journalists and media outlets.

Maddy Myers is currently the Assistant Games Editor for Paste Magazine; she also freelances for other media outlets. She previously worked as a games columnist, features writer, and web producer at the Boston Phoenix for six years. Her writing about video games has also appeared at re/Action, Five Out of Ten, Gameranx.com, the Border House, and Kill Screen.

Michael Mosley
Michael MosleyJournalist

Michael Mosley – The Mind of a Freelance Journalist

What is it like being a freelance videogame journalist and how does somebody get into the field? Using his own experiences, Freelance writer Michael Mosley

will answer these questions and more. This talk panel is meant to help indie game developers learn how videogame journalism work and how they can use the new knowledge to work alongside journalists. Attendees who are looking to get into videogame journalism will learn how to get started and what it takes to go from writing news articles to writing reviews and conducting interviews.

Michael Mosley is a freelance writer/photographer and PR representative, he has been writing about videogames for over five years starting off as a news reporter and quickly became a featured writer on ‘For The Love of Gaming’ and ‘Omnigamer’. Michael has done live coverage of New York Comic-Con and BFIG, currently he serves as PR for the videogame website ‘A Pixelated View’ while also writing a comic book.

Pete Vigeant
Pete VigeantDesigner

Pete Vigeant – Fun Things Are Fun

The third and final installment in his Karl Rohnke trilogy, designer Pete Vigeant will explore the lessons in game design from a master of field games. This talk

is for experts and novices alike – whether an active designer or simply an enthusiastic participant. Pete will focus on some of the most difficult aspects of game creation, including finding the fun and framing, and of course playing some games.

Pete Vigeant is a game, media and experience designer that creates large group live-action and digital interactive experiences. As a Senior Designer for ESI Design, Pete draws upon his passion and expertise in game and youth-focused design to develop interaction, media, concept, and game design for numerous ESI projects. Pete is a founding partner of The Completely Surrounded, a consulting group that has worked with camps, colleges and institutions to bring large games to thousands of participants. @greenghoulie

Xiao’an Li
Xiao’an LiComposer

Xiao’an Li – Five Steps To A Better Soundtrack

This talk aims to provide indie developers with the tools to work with composers more effectively, eliminating unnecessary revisions and making your dollar go as

far as it should. Attendees will gain insight into a 5-step creative process, important language, industry rates, alternative music licensing strategies, and the personnel/production chain essential to the creation of music.

Singaporean composer Xiao’an Li has toured as a performing guitarist and frontman, playing in jazz festivals and at events with thousands in attendance, recording guitar for chart-topping platinum music artists and producers along the way. He has composed for video games, commercial spots, and has also arranged music for concerts in Boston involving music industry luminaries. He is currently music director/resident conductor of East Coast Scoring (www.eastcoastscoring.com), which provides services in orchestral recording and production. You can follow him on twitter at @lxiaoan

Heather Albano
Heather Albano

Heather Albano – Narrative Design and Player Agency Are Friends

Rick Berry
Rick Berry

Rick Berry – Letting Art Speak

Darren Shield, Esq.
Darren Shield, Esq.

Darren Shield, Esq. – Navigating Trademark and Copyright Law in Video Games

Michael T. Lin
Michael T. Lin

Michael T. Lin – Simulator Sickness: A Research Overview

Andrew Plotkin
Andrew Plotkin

Andrew Plotkin – Interactive Fiction Tutorial

Tanya Short
Tanya Short

Tanya Short – Procedural Generation: From Molecule to Mythology

Brad Thibodeau
Brad Thibodeau
Meghan Gardner
Meghan Gardner
Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker
Uber the Ultra Zombie
Uber the Ultra Zombie

Guard Up™ presents Wizards and Warriors ( and Vampires Vs. Zombies ) Story-Based LARP

Tim Loew
Tim Loew
Monty Sharma
Monty Sharma
5 TBD students from MassDiGI SIP
5 TBD students from MassDiGI SIP

Game Devs: The Next Generation

Moderator

Ichiro Lambe
Ichiro Lambe

Participants

Jenna Hoffstein
Jenna Hoffstein
Dan Silvers
Dan Silvers
Becky Taylor
Becky Taylor
Erik Asmussen
Erik Asmussen

Early Access Panel: Get Involved with this Panel as it Develops

Andrew Plotkin and The People's Republic of Interactive Fiction
Andrew Plotkin and The People's Republic of Interactive Fiction

Live Interactive Fiction