November 28, 2016

The world’s best indie games come to Finland

Over 3 000 contestants were nominated almost 800 games for this year’s Game Development World Championship.
Over 3 000 contestants were nominated almost 800 games for this year’s Game Development World Championship.
GDWC

The Game Development World Championship showcases the best independent games in the world.

The frantic caller has gashed his leg with an axe. You are afraid he could die so tell him how to use his shirt as a tourniquet. Meanwhile, you send an ambulance to him as fast as you can. It is an intense experience, but don’t worry: this is only a game nominated for the Game Development World Championship (GDWC).

Independent games are hot. They can be innovative, entertaining, educational and make commentaries on important social issues. Because of their importance they have their own event: the GDWC.

The purpose of the GDWC is to encourage new game developers and give them an opportunity to show their games before a large audience. Six finalists will visit Nordic gaming companies, as well as come to Slush Helsinki to wow several thousand people and the world media before the winners are announced.

“This is a great chance to show that the games industry in Finland is more than just Supercell and Rovio,” says event producer Leevi Rasila. “We have a really great community of game developers here and want to show the rest of the world how we do things in Finland.”

Serious fun

Almost 800 games were nominated for the 2016 event. Judges were from the Finnish gaming community and included gaming experts from private companies, universities and publications. GDWC has two main categories: serious and entertainment.

911 Operator is one of three games competing in the serious category.

911 Operator is one of three games competing in the serious category.

Screenshot

“We wanted to have a serious category to show the world that there are games that can teach, inform or otherwise help players while still being entertaining,” Rasila explains. “Games can be a very good method of teaching.”

The three finalists for the serious category are teams from Palestine, Germany and Poland. The Polish team from Jutsu Games came up with 911 Operator, where you act as an emergency services dispatcher and learn the basics of logistics and first aid.

“Personally, I enjoyed seeing a few games that were meant to teach programming to children in an interesting manner,” Rasila continues. “I also greatly enjoyed 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, which takes place during the Iranian revolution. For an indie game it had great quality and awesome production values.”

VR and nostalgia

In the entertainment category two teams from America and a team from Russia made the finals. These were diverse as well, ranging from 3D platform games to an adventure where the goal is to survive a dystopian autocratic future.

“I think what struck out the most for me was just how many awesome games there were,” says Rasila. “It was a hard process to try and eliminate some of the games from the competition, and I honestly wish we could give out prizes and attention to more games.”

Rasila is excited about new innovations in virtual reality gaming he has seen, but he also has a soft spot for nostalgic pixel art and unique visual styles. He is already thinking about what he will see next year.

“I’m really looking forward to see how large we can make GDWC 2017!” he says.

Text: David J. Cord

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