Entering its 25th year, E3 2019 featured massive AAA demos, displays, and reveals. Square Enix’s demonstration booth for Final Fantasy VII Remake featured a replica of a Mako reactor with actual smoke drifting out of the top. The massive crowds are just part of the E3 spectacle. People line up for a chance at a hands-on demo of upcoming AAA games.

However, just beyond the large faux stadium for Pokémon Sword and Shield, is a real treasure. This is where you’ll find the IndieCade area. It’s a far more intimate setting than the main show. This year’s IndieCade featured over 30 new games with their developers standing by to answer questions and offer insights to curious gamers.

Terrorarium was one of many games featured at IndieCade during E3 2019. A full list of exhibiting games can be found here.

IndieCade is a major independent game festival that takes place in California every October. According to Stephanie Barish, CEO of IndieCade, the festival first joined E3 in 2007. She explained that IndieCade had been asked to exhibit at E3 to demonstrate more diversity in the game industry. Support from the Entertainment Software Association or ESA—the organization that owns E3— has allowed IndieCade to continue having an annual presence at the expo.

Starting with an Experimental Documentary

Prior to co-founding IndieCade, Barish earned her bachelor’s in social science from UC Berkeley before attending the animation program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Once she had completed her master’s, Barish joined the crew behind the movie adaptation of Mortal Kombat.

USC News reported that after working on the movie, she “then put her interactive media skills to use at USC Shoah Foundation—The Institute of Visual History and Education developing cutting-edge projects that straddled documentary and games.”

However, about 15 years ago, Barish made an experimental, interactive documentary. Sadly, she couldn’t find an event willing to accept it as a submission.

Barish said this experience “kind of set the stage for me.” It drove her to become more aware of interactive media.

Concept art of a character from Newspaper Hats’ VR arena shooter Ascend, one of the IndieCade games at E3 2019. Ascend is an advanced game project at USC, and Newspaper Hats’ co-director Audrey Cheng and creative director Mark Yampolsky are from USC’s game design program.

According to USC News, when Barish helped form the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at USC’s cinema school, she got in touch with colleagues that would later assist her in starting IndieCade.

Since then, Barish says that IndieCade has developed into the longest-running stand-alone festival devoted exclusively to indie games.

What IndieCade Brings to the E3 Table

According to Barish, IndieCade has regularly attracted people at E3. She said this is because it’s one of the few places where players can have face-to-face meetings with developers. There is also always a wide selection of new games to try.

IndieCade even had a place with esports at this year’s E3. Barish talked about how IndieCade games with a competitive tone like Wave Break and Killer Queen Black were featured at the E3 ESPORTS ZONE on June 12. There was even an open tournament for these games, with a Grand Prize from Lenovo.

Killer Queen Black, developed by Chicago-based Liquid Bit, is the upcoming console and PC follow-up to their previous arcade esport game, Killer Queen. According to Barish, Killer Queen was originally a live field game featured at IndieCade.

With E3 wrapping up, IndieCade can focus on their own upcoming event. The full, stand-alone IndieCade festival takes place on October 10-12 in Santa Monica.

About the Author

Alyssa Wejebe

Alyssa Wejebe writes about games, reads about games, and plays them too. RPG, hack-and-slash, and fighting games are some of her favorite genres. She loves nonhuman characters. One of her earliest gaming memories center around battling her grandmother and younger brothers in “Super Bomberman 2” on the SNES.

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