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indiecadesmall.jpgThe schedule handed out at the beginning of Indiecade was wrong. You had to go to the registration booth and look at a sign any time you wanted to know what talk was going on or when and where a special event was starting.

The main conference talks were often more of a conversational nature than an instructive one, and were scattered across three buildings and tents in three square blocks of downtown Culver City, with games shown in a fourth.

Ultimately the event wound up not being about the conference -- but everything surrounding the show was an affirmation of why indies do what they do, and why they continue to thrive.

The games showcased were great (by and large), and the show drew interest across a range of people -- from indies that were just starting out, to industry powerhouses like John Romero, Brenda Brathwaite, Richard Lemarchand, Jenova Chen, and Spacewar! creator Steve Russell.

But that's to be expected at a conference like this. What was really impressive was the diversity.

Walking around the show, playing the games, and networking with peers, it was striking how many people there were who didn't look just like me. There was a noticeably greater female presence than at many game shows, both as general attendees and on the game making side.

I watched a girl who "doesn't play games" dominate Super Space __ for 30 minutes, saying "it's not as intimidating as I thought!" I overheard indie dev Anna Anthropy say that never had she felt so safe around game fans. I saw my friend Erin Reynolds display her game Nevermind while her husband acted as booth babe. I saw people from all sorts of backgrounds playing and demonstrating games.

I don't think the traditional industry purposefully avoids diversity, but it doesn't especially encourage it either. It's difficult to do within a large organization, and you certainly can't hire people just because of how they look or what their background is.

Indie games by their very nature represent varied perspectives and viewpoints, and pride themselves by being different from the mainstream. The faces I saw at Indiecade showed me what those varied perspectives look like, and there was a real positive vibe to each interaction.

Cardboard kings and queens

A peripheral event also stuck out - the Imagine Foundation's global day of play, which coincided with the Saturday of Indiecade. The idea is based on Caine's Arcade, which is worth checking out if you haven't already. In short, it's the physical cardboard arcade creation of 9-year-old Caine Monroy, which became popular through a viral video.

Monroy embodies the spirit of play and creation, and at Indiecade this was shared with any kid who wandered by. The huge playspace began with some of Caine's arcade pieces, which kids could play to win tokens. These tokens were traded in to "buy" materials to make their own games out of cardboard, tape, PVC pipe, cups, whatever was around. Kids were making games, playing games, and feeling empowered, in an incredibly positive way. Seeing the joy on a 4-year-old boy's face when I successfully completed his ball maze game was kind of a revelation. Nearly everyone likes to create, if given the chance, and nearly everyone likes playing games.

At the cardboard arcade, a 9-year-old girl hustled Brenda Brathwaite and John Romero into playing her whack-a-mole variant. Brathwaite asked if the girl played video games. "Of course!" she said. "I play shooters.

"Oh, my husband John pretty much invented shooters," said Brathwaite. "Hmm," said the little girl. "But did he make Halo?" The more things change, the more they stay the same. But she was great at promoting herself, and her game - she believed in it, and she wanted anyone she could find to play the thing.

Across the event, the takeaway was the same. Anyone can make games, if given half the chance, and try to make their mark on the world. This is why we're seeing so many odd and interesting indie games, as tools like Unity and GameMaker lower the bar for entry to digital game creation. As social games and the triple-A studios cast around for direction, indies choose all directions, at the same time. I, personally, am all for it.

[Brandon Sheffield wrote this article, which originally appeared on Gamasutra.]

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waderoush writes "Google wants to 'organize the world's information,' but there isn't a marketplace or a category of knowledge it can organize without remaking it in the process. A case in point: public transportation. Largely outside the media spotlight, Google has wrought a quiet revolution over the last five years in the way commuters get schedule information for local buses and trains, and the way public transit agencies communicate with their riders. GTFS and GTFS-realtime, which Google invented, have become the de facto world standards for sharing transit data, and have opened up space for a whole ecosystem of third-party transit app developers. This in-depth article looks at the history of GTFS and Google's efforts to give people information (largely via their smartphones) that can help them plan their commutes on public transportation — and, not incidentally, drive a lot less."


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indiecade.jpgThe organizers of the fifth annual Indiecade Festival have chosen 36 finalists from nearly 450 indie game submissions to be playable on the event's GameWalk October 8 and 9 in Culver City, CA.

The chosen titles range from professional projects like Gaijin Games' Bit.Trip Flux to more amateur efforts like Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure, a game designed by Untold Entertainment founder Ryan Creighton's five-year-old daughter at the annual TOJam festival.

Other prominent entrants include Superbrothers' iOS exploration title Sword & Sworcery EP, Demruth's surreal first-person puzzler Anitchamber, Polytron Corp.'s 2D/3D hybrid platformer Fez and fast-paced Rogue-like Desktop Dungeons.

All 36 finalists will be up for prizes at a Red Carpet Awards ceremony to be held Thursday, October 6.

Last year's IndieCade Festival saw 32 finalists, with prize winners including Terry Cavanagh's gravity-defying platform title VVVVVV and "documentary game" The Cat and the Coup.

The 2011 finalists are listed just after the cut, and a full listing with detailed descriptions of each title is available at the IndieCade web site.

Antichamber--Demruth
Application Crunch--Collegeology Games, The Game Innovation Lab
At a Distance--Terry Cavanagh
BasketBelle--Michael Molinari
Bistro Boulevard--Fugazo Inc.
BIT.TRIP FLUX--Gaijin Games
Black Bottom Parade--SCAD
Deepak Fights Robots--Tom Sennett
Desktop Dungeons--QCF Design
FEZ--Polytron Corp.
Gamestar Mechanic--E-Line Media
Geobook--levitylab
Halcyon--stfj
Hero Generations--Heart Shaped Games
Hohokum--Honeyslug and Richard Hogg
Improviso--GAMBIT
Johann Sebastian Joust--Douglas Wilson and Friends
Kiss Controller--Georgia Tech
Loop Raccord--Nicolai Troshinsky
Ordnungswissenschaft--Till Wittwer, Marek Plichta and Jakob Penca
Papa Sangre--Somethin' Else
PewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewPew--Incredible Ape
Play Kalei--Load Complete
Proteus--Ed Key
Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure--Untold Entertainment
Skulls of the Shogun--Haunted Temple Studios
Solar 2--Murudai
StarDrone--Beatshapers, TastyPlay
Super Hypercube--Kokoromi
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP--Superbrothers, Capybara Games, Jim Guthrie
The Bridge--Case Western
The Depths to Which I Sink--Bigpants
The Dream Machine--Cockroach Inc.
The Swapper--Facepalm Games
The Witch--Elizabeth Swensen
Way--Coco & Co (Carnegie Mellon)

[Originally posted on sister site Gamasutra by Kyle Orland.]

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Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, began earlier this month with the sighting of the new moon. Throughout this ninth month on the Islamic calendar, devout Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sex from dawn until sunset. The fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is seen as a time for spiritual reflection, prayers, and charity. After sunset, Muslims traditionally break the fast by eating three dates, performing the Maghrib prayer, and sitting down to Iftar, the main evening meal, where communities and families gather together. Collected below are images of Muslims around the world observing Ramadan this year. [42 photos]

Palestinian women stand in front of a window decoration of Islam's crescent moon and star on the eve of Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan in the West Bank city of Jenin, on July 31, 2011. (Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images)

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Muslims around the globe have begun their holiest month of the year by giving up food, drink, smoking and other physical needs from dawn till dusk each day. In many communities, large dinner gatherings are held each evening to break the fast. The month also marks a time for Muslims to reexamine their lives through the prism of Islamic teachings. -- Lloyd Young (38 photos total)
A student reads the Koran before morning prayer on the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Solo, Indonesia Central Java province, August 2. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

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Tim Hawkinson's Möbius Ship sculptures are nautical, single-surfaced and have fractional dimensionality. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Echoing the working methods of ship-in-a-bottle hobbyists, Hawkinson created a painstakingly detailed model ship that twists in upon itself, presenting the viewer with a thought-provoking visual conundrum. The title is a witty play on Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, which famously relates the tale of a ship captain's all-consuming obsession with an elusive white whale. The ambitious and imaginative structure of Hawkinson's sculpture offers an uncanny visual metaphor for Melville's epic tale, which is often considered the ultimate American novel.

Möbius Ship

(via Kottke)

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