LA Game Space: Inaugural experiments

Daniel Rehn and Adam Robezzoli are poised to change the future of videogames.

The doors are not yet open to their cultural hub for art, design and research but LA Game space is already a seminal venture for neoteric thinking. Their Kickstarter campaign was the epitome of benevolence; securing backers with the creation of 30 never before seen games by coveted developers. Incredulously, a $15 pledge would capture original work by the designers of Hotline Miami (Cactus), Mirror Moon EP (Santa Ragione), Katamari Damacy (Keita Takahashi), The Unfinished Swan (Ben Esposito) and Canabalt (Adam Saltsman) amongst other established creatives. Higher pledging tiers included work by Adventure Time’s creator; Pendleton Ward, Capy’s; Vic Nguyen and pixel artist Eboy.

Sony and Microsoft have both recently embraced indie developers in a bid to capitalise on more protean experiences. Such mainstream exposure is extremely positive but their success will largely be determined by an open-minded consumer, who dares to support ideas outside of the typical AAA space.

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LA/GS is certainly equipped to bridge the familiar and the empirical. The inaugural release of backer dividends has just been delivered and the results are astonishing. The types of experiments offered here are inventive and divergent, imbued with a creative freedom not found in most games. If this is a reflection of what we can expect from the space then we are witnessing an important revelation in the advancement of the videogame.

This venture was always conceived to sustain a global conversation (events will be streamed and archived for free online), The conversation is not only integral to pursue innovation but also to demand a metanoia towards experimentalism. There is always an expectancy that ‘next gen’ games will resemble skyscrapers, that tower over the previous, but that is habitually reserved for graphics, not necessarily theme or content. Polished facades can usurp the promise of a new console turning an investment in the future into a tool for re-visiting (and re-purchasing) the past.

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LA/GS will stand with a firm commitment to modernism and the credentials of its benefactors galvanize this; Adam Robezzoli lionized games both as an events organizer and as a designer. The presiding founder of Attract mode has also collaborated with illustrator Angie Wang on Wake up! which will appear in a later game pack.

Daniel Rehn is an authority in digital archaeology and preservation, the restless MacArthur award winner also fluctuates between editor of WWWTXT, ANI GIF, Z/Z/Z/, and Playpower. Rehn further extends himself by sharing an art space with Sarah Caluag; X me + Sarah, collaborating with live visuals and real world installations. Sarah’s contribution to LA/GS is understated; working behind the scenes as an advisor but possibly as a third (shadow) partner in the venture? Triforce or not, together they are an influence in exploratory thinking, showcasing demiurgic minds and contemporary visions.

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The advisory board for LA/GS solidifies a discerning reputation. A provident ensemble of mentors; from the amiable Venus Patrol and IGF luminary Brandon Boyer, to the accomplished jinsoo An; curator, researcher and ‘experience’ architect for myriad blue chip companies. They lead a meticulously thought out counsel that will bring lucidity to the creative output.

In an ideal world, the critical and commercial success of a game would not be determined by how accurately it repeats what has been made before, but in its ability to amaze through the courage of originality. The work created here is a bold example of thinking rather than reveling in plagiarism. Hopefully these types of ideas will inspire or amalgamate with the big budget monoliths, so future investments can be based on imagination rather than the tried and tested.

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For now though there is a clear distinction; the next construct of AAA architecture will have us gazing up, amazed by their splendour. I am confident however that LA Game Space will prompt us to look in all directions, and that is more exciting and much more important to advance the medium.

The experimental game pack can be purchased here for a limited time.

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