I’ve been to a number of conventions for pop culture and games from coast to coast, and there’s a certain expectation you have when you attend one. Sprawling crowds, long lines for a panel or trying out a game demo, and of course the arduous trek while dead on your feet just to get some nachos. Sometimes a big con can go from a fun day to an exhaustive odyssey, where dodging the after parties for bed is an all-too-viable option. This year though I got to add a new games convention to my list, which didn’t hit me with all of your standard con fare.
That convention was Play NYC, held at Terminal 5 in New York City (naturally). This was the first year this convention took place and I have to say, it was a great first outing from the folks at Playcrafting. They packed 3 floors of indie goodness, including all sorts of games ranging from handheld apps like Mama Hawk all the way up to what i can only call installation art with Salmon Roll. In the middle I even played a bullet hell game on a DDR dance mat. I can honestly say that I was able to pack more demos in over the span of one day than I have been able to in a lot of larger shows.
And that’s part of what made Play NYC so great. More than a coliseum hosting upwards of 75,000 people, this was a more intimate environment. There was room to walk, demo in comfort, and talk directly to developers while you played without having to jam elbows to get to where you were going. And what really added something to was how they took care of everyone in the building. On every floor at multiple stations were free lemonade, energy drinks and snacks to keep you on your feet when you start to waver, as we all do. They even had a diet variety of lemonade for those who need and/or want such an option, which made my delicious hydration a bit easier, and was very welcome after walking in the hot sun before we got to the venue.
More then just the amenities (for lack of a better word) this was the first show I’ve been to that put a focus and importance on indie game development. Howard Zemsky, CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation as well as NY State Senator Martin Golden spoke during the convention on the importance of growing the games development industry in New York, and making it a flagship hub for devs.
And with continued events like Play NYC, I think they have a chance. I myself am looking forward to next year!