[GH2016] Looking Back

– Marina Rossi

One of the main reasons I wanted to create a blog is to have a space to highlight how Game Happens is essentially the result of team work. That’s why I’ve collected some different points of view from some of the people who worked on our 2016 edition. GH 2016 has been extremely challenging for me: for the first time we decided to have a two-day event –and that was the best choice ever made because people from all over Europe joined us. We had international developers showcasing their own games, international attendees and even a volunteer coming all the way from Greece. The most International edition so far, and even if we had to face many problems, I’m proud of it. It doesn’t matter if you attended GH or not: you will find some beautiful words in here.

Let’s start with Emanuele Maccario. He attended the first edition of GH and he’s part of our team since 2015. This year he’s the designated survivor of GH, which means he will be responsible whenever I won’t be available on site.

I’m studying Mathematics at the University of Genova. When I first attended GH, I was alone, I had no skills, I didn’t know anybody, and in just one day I shook around twenty hands, and the related forty ears welcomed not only my questions, but also my ideas too. During the years, I had the chance to be more and more involved with the association until the 2016 edition, which has been a testing ground for me, because I had an active role within the organisation of the event. For me – someone who’s not a creative, nor a programmer – GH is the opportunity to look at my passion through the eyes of those who dedicate their life to creating games. And that’s why I’m so proud of my contribution to GH: it’s like giving back a little of my time to those who – with their games – gave me so much. But the greatest wonder is that every single time no one takes for granted the presence of the others. Even if the event should be centred around games, what struck you in the end is the people behind every single title. The look of terror when you are playing someone’s game, the relaxed feeling when they know you appreciated it, the enthusiasm when you ask a question, the openness to criticism: these are the sort of things that can only happen in a place like GH. For me, the greatest marvel of GH has always been the same: it doesn’t matter what you can do or why you arrived here, the only thing that matters is that you are here now, because at GH there’s a place for you, just like there’s a place for me.
– Emanuele

For some, the 2016 edition has been the first encounter with GH. We met Claire Guillon just a month before the event, and then we couldn’t let her go!

I had been living in Genova for 6 months when I joined the Game Happens team. I already had several experiences with festivals in France as organiser and translator so I thought why not give it a try. The fact that I could find like-minded persons speaking English was also a big plus – as my Italian was not so fluent back then. So much happened before, during and after the festival: making a list would be just impossible! If I had to pick one word to sum up what I experienced it would be PEOPLE. People from Game Happens: more than a team, new friends, kinda family. People from the creative side of life: developers, artists, the ones who dare. People from the public: amateurs, wanderers, curious minds. PEOPLE is what makes Game Happens so unique and I am glad to be part of such an indie creative family.
– Claire

For me, 2016 was also the year when I finally shared those anxious days with one of my best friends. Maddalena Grattarola accepted to chair the round table about video game criticism, and just like that she jumped on board and became a fundamental part of the team.

During the last edition of GH I had the pleasure of chairing the round table discussion “Where in the world is video game criticism?”. Video games are getting more and more attention as a new art form, or as a new medium able to entertain, convoy meaning, deal with emotions, explore contemporary cultural issues while at the same time providing an impressive level of engagement. However, when we consider the existing literature on the matter, it seems that video games lack the critical apparatus that older and more consolidated media have. Together with Mata Haggis, Francesco Toniolo and Andrea Dresseno we explored the boundaries of the mostly uncharted territory of game criticism, treasuring the specific expertise and feedback that each of the participants could bring to the conversation.

Beside my specific role and duty within the conference, I finally had the opportunity to witness in person (some rare form of high-definition-fully-immersive-3D experience), what Game Happens is. After two years of experiencing GH in its virtual, narrated, postproducted version through third party generous accounts, tons of beautiful pictures, tweets and videos, I managed to merge the stream of mediated memories and recollections with my own vision: I eventually ended up playing and living in the “Game Happens – The Walking Simulator” as we may call it nowadays. Set in the luxurious decadence of Villa Bombrini, with an original sound track provided by KenoBit and Chipzel, featuring some astonishing art by, among the others, Tale of Tales, this gorgeous walk-sim lasted 2 entire days, it was really fun, and you definitely wouldn’t even consider asking for your money back on Steam. It was a blast.
It would be too long and probably too cheesy to catalogue here the endless list of precious Fragments of It that I’m still enshrining. Let me just say that Game Happens is a thriving creature, very much alive and able to encompass within itself the many embodiments of video games, it’s a fierce celebration of art in its purest form, and provides an honest take on the current indie scene, stubbornly trying to resist the arid drift the world has taken these days.
– Maddalena

As I mentioned earlier, one person from our volunteer team came from Greece. Here’s Dimos Merachtsakis sharing some of his memories from GH.

Game Happens for me was about meeting new awesome people, making friends, eating some of the best ice cream in my life and of course playing some great games.
Participating as a volunteer and getting to know the team personally, was a special experience, one that I will gladly live again.
– Dimos

We also had the pleasure to have Lorenzo Gerli with us. He supported us since the beginning, but with the 2016 edition he became more involved in the process.

Don’t get me wrong: Game Happens is not just super-interesting and inspiringly talks, great indie games showcase or the awesome Villa that hosts the event. What amazes me the most about it is the “people” dimension: Game Happens is all about nice, kind, lovely, incredible people who are making amazing stuff and who are a source of inspiration.
– Lorenzo

And then some words from Antonio Borrelli who also in 2016 volunteered for the first time.

Last summer I had the opportunity to volunteer at the third edition of Game Happens. I was stunned by how people from all over the world gathered in Villa Bombrini, which is located in the periphery of Genova. The day before the actual event, Game Happens organised a dinner with speakers and volunteers. During that evening, I had a chat with Tale of Tales and Eric Zimmerman about their works. I hope to be part of Game Happens once again and meet other professionals like them.
– Antonio

Last but not least, the co-initiator of GH, Federico Fasce, now based in London.

Well, I’m the president of the cultural association that we created to make Game Happens, which means that I get some fine perks like holding the opening remarks at the event. Doing this sort of thing is always a mix of fun and challenge. The beginning of the event is a very important moment and I like to try to come up with something that really explains the theme, while giving a common baseline for the speakers. Also, I try for it to be a motivational thing, something telling the attendees that they should be inspired by the event and use it as a starting point to do something. I have a note that constantly evolves during the year, where I write down ideas and possible ways to expand the theme concept; it can happen everywhere and in every moment (last year the first draft was written in a pub while hanging out with a colleague), so I always take the notes application with me. It’s a kind of self-reflective process that I try to wrap up in a very brief but powerful speech; it speaks of me and my desires and passions as much as it speaks of the event. I really hope people like it because even if it’s a very small thing, I’m committed to do my best in delivering it. Speaking aside, I often take care of making contact with our speakers and meeting them. It’s not always possible to meet them in person before the event, but I try to do it anyways. To me the sense of Game Happens is to bring together people that share a vision and some values, and let them have a good time while they are in our small town. I try to make things happen, be it laser-cutting the plexiglas for making the logo keychains, asking for help to all sorts of people, or driving around town for errands. In a nutshell my job is to try to make Game Happens grow and thrive. Which is cool, isn’t it?
– Federico

If you attended GH 2016 we’d love to receive some thoughts from you too! Leave a comment below, tweet us, or send us an email.

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