Written by Team Sagittarius
In early October, we received news from IndieCade that our game had been invited to be part of Intel’s “Gaming for Everyone” Pavilion. As you can imagine, we were quite ecstatic. Reality pulled us back though as our thoughts shifted to travel costs and transportation issues (mainly of how to safely get the board across the border).
TRUSTING THE PROCESS AND TRUSTING THE BOARD
“This board will be the death of me.” — At one point or another, both Hope and I thought this.
While our travel costs were soon allayed (thanks to TAG and Critical Hit!), our biggest concern was the safety of the board. When we landed in LA, try as we might to only think of positive thoughts (“It’s fine. The board is fine. We’re fine. This is fine.”), we couldn’t help but imagine our worst nightmares. Our board had never traveled outside of Montreal so we weren’t sure whether it would survive the trip, get lost or get damaged along the way.
Thankfully, our fears never came true. The board was there. There was no damage. It survived.
Tip for future makers: We never had any difficulties with security. Hope packaged the board as securely as they could (with some foam and clothes) and labeled the box as “Fragile” with “Contents: Electronic Device” on the outside. The airport people told us that as long as the board did not have batteries in them, it should be fine to check in. And… it totally was!
ADAPTING TO THE ENVIRONMENT
“What if we let them just sample the game?” — Hope asked as we switched tactics on Day 2.
On Day 1 of the festival, we still maintained the same tactics as our previous showings?—?namely having people go through the entire game (roughly taking between 8–15 minutes depending on technical issues).
As a narrative-heavy game, we’ve always thought the game is best experienced from the beginning to the end. We found out though that in a setting like IndieCade, people liked sampling games more (usually never finishing an entire game).
After getting some mixed feedback on the first day, we decided then that letting people sample the game would be the best use of our showings. In this way, we could be flexible with whatever commitment players were willing to do (i.e. disinterested players could try it then quickly leave, those who just wanted to talk could try it then have a longer conversation with us and those who really connected with the game and wanted to continue to the end could do so as well).
When we became more flexible with the way we presented our game (on Day 2 and 3), we started to reach more festival goers. Not only that but we also received more positive feedback, got pulled into more satisfying and deeper conversations about our game, our experiences (and theirs) about marginalization and oppression as well as game-making in general.
Despite the uneven start in Day 1 (when we were starting to question whether IndieCade was the right place to show our game), the meaningful interactions and conversations we had on Day 2 and 3 reversed our positions and made us feel like the trip was definitely worth it.
“Thank you so much for making this game and telling me these stories. It was amazing.” — IndieCade Attendee
“We Are Fine, We’ll Be Fine” is a deeply personal project for Raoul, Hope and I. The game was made and fueled in part by the strong emotions we felt (and continue to feel) in our day to day lives due to issues of marginalization and oppression. As Hope described to one player, making the game was a cathartic process for us (and hopefully also to those who generously gave their time to talk to us and contribute their own stories to the project).
We’re always unsure when we show it around because we never know how people will react. We’ve always been torn about being overly promotional because we understand that not everyone would be interested or even comfortable about these topics. You don’t want to be the creator that tries to force players to go through experiences they don’t want to experience.
On that note though, we did encounter and had great conversations with people that really connected with the game?—?including all the awesome organizations we talked to at the “Gaming for Everyone” Pavilion which included old friends like Pixelles and Dames Making Games as well as new friends like #INeedDiverseGames/Fresh Out Of Tokens Cast, FemHype, HDNP LA, Code Liberation, Different Games Collective and Top Shelf Gamer among many others.
As well, after we switched our tactics (of allowing players to sample the game), it melted our hearts whenever we had individuals who wanted to keep going until they reached the very end. When someone says, “…can we still keep going?” and proceeds to offer their hand to hold another player, that’s when you know that the stories do connect and are meaningful to people beyond those of us involved.
At the end of the day, I think that’s why we made the game and why we were so happy to have been part of IndieCade 2015. The fact remains that most people won’t ever get to play our game (as echoed by our friends from In Tune due to being dependent on custom hardware). The opportunity then to reach a wider audience (and especially connecting with those who might find our game meaningful), it is something we cherish and value as creators and as artists.