Bit Bash

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Bit Bash was hosted in September, and was a free independent gaming festival at Threadless Headquarters near the West Side at 1260 West Madison Street. I met up with some friends at the event. Originally in the event information you needed to order a free ticket, and then later they said they were sold out of ticket due to a surprisingly large amount of people had RSVP’d. However several people showed up anyway and still got in. It was broken up into a couple different sections. Outside there was a trailer with a game inside sitting in the parking lot. You could sit and listen to music and a person got to control the sounds which also changed the way the screen looked.

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Inside underneath rows and rows of Threadless t-shirts were all sorts of independent games. Then down past boxes full of t-shirts and art that was up was a room with arcade games. Everything was pretty packed. The first game I played was in the main room and it was essentially a mental tug of war, it was called Relax Harder. The two players sit and put a device on their head that tells how relaxed they are and then a bar shows who is more relaxed and their goal is to fill the bar with their color. It was pretty cool, although they had people working it whose only job was to yell at you to relax, and it happened to be right next to one of the larger games. A game where each person gets a wobbly character and have to throw the other characters out of the ring, or off the dock, or to get hit by the incoming train. It sounds really violent, and sort of was, but there wasn’t any blood and gore, just these adorable wobbly characters stumbling around drunk trying to move the other characters around was hilarious. It drew a big crowd, especially since it was projected onto the wall and could play about 6 people.

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Some of the game creators were around or watching people play their games. I spent the majority of my time in the main room and a smaller bit of time in the arcade room because it was so packed. The arcade games were interesting. There was one where you had to move and keep your character’s heart beating and fight by moving on a dance dance revolution style mat. There was another game where you and the other player select large burly men who are sitting at a bar drinking and collect and try to protect and grow your hat collection from flying objects. The arcade room was packed, and eventually had a long line to get to it, it was a lot smaller than the main room so it filled up quicker.

There were also all sorts of other games, like an oculus rift of a guillotine. You kneel down in a corner with the headset on and look around the virtual world before the guillotine comes down and your head rolls off. There were also games where you and a group have to work together to get further in the game, only while you’re doing this half your party are ghosts who want to be alive and have to kill the only living one to live and get a chance to control who moves forward with the game. When my friends and I played I don’t think we even got past a level before our time was up. As it got later in the day they switched out some of the games, put in a DJ where the projection screen game was, and let the gaming turn into a bit of a dance party with beer.

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The parking lot filled up with food trucks with long lines and a complicated game of freeze tag with swords that lit up in the darkness began. It was a fun event, the first I hope of an annual indie game festival. It was fun to play and test out all sorts of different games, some that I was good or okay at and others I was terrible at.

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