Written by Jupiter Hadley
I really enjoy going to events abroad. As an American living in the United Kingdom, one of my favorite things to do is to attend gaming events all over the country and abroad. When I was invited to go to the Valencia Indie Summit, I was even more excited as Spain is one of my favorite places in the world.
I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been to the Valencia Indie Summit. These smaller, local events are always so different, with their own energy and vibe to them. I got to be a judge on the panel of experts that took a look at many of the games up for awards for the festival, which gave me a little peek into what was going to be on show there. The judging had a variety of games which were being judged and narrowed down to the final games at the showcase. Once the judging was done, all that was left was to wait for the event.
Arriving at the venue, the day before the event had opened, I ended up going out to lunch with many of the developers before heading back to their set-up. Here’s the thing about being a guest at an event – often everything is so casual and relaxed. This is even doubly so when it comes to events in Spain. I had a lunch of ‘the big sandwich’ before heading back to actually take a look at the many, many games on display. Several developers were just showing their games to others, while other people were still setting up. Despite not knowing any Spanish, everyone spoke quite a bit of English, and it was really easy to communicate.
The games, for me, at any event, are the real draw and Valencia Indie Summit did not disappoint. There were wonderful platformers like The Knight Witch, where you play as a witch who’s world has been attacked, looking to find her husband or Tower Princess which is an action platformer where you are able to date and fight with the princess you rescue. Magical Prisma was a game I could hear from across the room – a Tetris inspired game where you need to get matches depending on what the ever-changing display on the bottom says, trying to beat the other play if you are playing verses mode.
There was an entire area of student projects, many of which you cannot even find on the internet, giving people the chance to check out a developer’s first ever work, as well as a developer the chance to showcase and get feedback for the first time. This was a lovely idea and I am so glad to see more students there.
For me, Unmemory stuck out the most amongst all the games – a mobile, narrative game that features a beautiful sound scape, amazing puzzles, and is just something I’ve never actually seen before – which holds a lot of weight as I do play many, many games. The story was also very captivating, it was no surprise when Unmemory took home three awards itself.
Let’s talk about the awards – the Valencia Indie Summit had awards in the shape of paella dishes, which is pretty funny if you are an outsider like me. I may have even gotten to take home a discarded trophy from last year (and was told I could even cook in it if I wanted). The gala award ceremony was short and sweet, showing trailers of each game that won.
The Valencia Indie Summit was not just a games expo, it also had a bunch of different talks and panels, right in the middle of the room. I was on a fair few panels and got to do a talk as well, which was a breeze. The line-up was primarily developer focused, which made sense in this room of developers and students.
This summit was very supported by the local government, who had representatives come to open the event and who even had news presenters walking around on one of the days, interviewing various people who were enjoying the festivities. I really love events that are supported by the government – not many (if any) of the events in the United Kingdom have backing from the government here, and that makes so much of a difference. The local government supporting the games industry and making sure that these events can happen is really important! Spain seems to have quite a few local events that survive through government grants and support, which means developers showcase for free, speakers are given proper accommodation and resources are available for free for anyone interested in taking up the opportunity.
The Valencia Indie Summit isn’t an event to miss – there is a lot to enjoy and so much to learn from. With the quality of the talks and speakers (despite the start of a global pandemic) as well as the quality of games and the addition of a student showcase – there really is something for everyone. Also, they fed everyone traditional Valencian paella on the last day. That was pretty yummy too. I hope to be back next year and see what games they have on offer.