Scrapbook: Kill Screen Fest

In today's edition of our Scrapbook feature (where we give you an insight into events we've attended), our artist Alex talks about attending (and speaking at) Kill Screen Fest in New York. Enjoy!

Hello! I’m Alex, one of the artists from The Chinese Room.

At the start of June I travelled to Brooklyn, New York for Kill Screen Fest. I was speaking about all things environmental storytelling in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Originally TwoFiveSix, Kill Screen Fest is a one-day event to celebrate video games as both an artistic and cultural form.

“The Festival is devoted to the space between games, play, interaction and creativity. It aims to show what games can teach other industries and what other industries can teach games”

The event took place at the Roulette Intermedium, Brooklyn on June 4th.

2016 was their 4th annual festival and the first one I had attended. I was super excited to be asked to attend and speak at the event, and Kill Screen did not disappoint!

Organised by Rachel Catlett and hosted by Kill Screen founder Jamin Warren, Kill Screen Fest is a 1-day event of discussions, talks and exposing the similarities between a variety of creative industries. The talks were a mix of game developers with someone from a different creative industry with a unique perspective. I was paired up with critically acclaimed production designer Diane Lederman. She’s worked on HBO series’ The Leftovers and The Americans. Diane’s work on TV dramas and mine on game development made some interesting parallels to the complexities that both industries face creating environmental storytelling.

The discussion focused around ‘Designing Loneliness,’ with a particular focus on creating spaces to visualise characters when there aren’t traditional characters presented to the audience.
Unfortunately the talks weren’t recorded, but I did an interview with Kill Screen that you can check out here in the lead-up to Kill Screen Fest.

Other talks on the day included ‘Hellscapes’ between Kitty Horrorshow and Felix Barrett (Theatre Director of Punchdrunk) – speaking about immersive theatre and horror experiences. William Chyr spoke about Manifold Garden and designing abstract architecture and puzzles. There was a keynote from Robyn and Rand Miller, creators of Myst (an article on their discussion for the lead-up to the festival can be found here). Other speakers included Rami Ismail, co-founder of indie game studio Vlambeer, and Jake Elliott, founder of game studio Cardboard Computer (Kentucky Route Zero).

And if you’re interested in more photos and information on talks and the other incredible speakers, check out #killscreenfest on Twitter.

Rachel Catlett and Jamin Warren organised an incredible event. One of the main focuses this year was on diversity, inclusivity and a focus on giving marginalised groups in games a voice. The primary focus this year was on representing women and LGBTQ+ at the event. This was the best event I have attended.

As someone who’s part of these underrepresented groups in games, the event felt inclusive and friendly. And it doesn’t stop with the event itself! Kill Screen are doing a scholarship program for young women and underrepresented groups in games which is supported by INTEL. The mentoring scheme helps to bridge the gap between industry developers and aspiring game developers with a focus on making it a fairer playing field for girls, women, LGBTQ+ and BAME. The scheme saw the scholars attend the amazing dinner buffet at Runner & Stone (a bar in Brooklyn) on the Friday night, where everyone was encouraged to engage with the speakers and the scholars.

One of the coolest things we were each given were these mega cool personalised lanyards by gifpop!

And since I was in New York and had a day to spare, it was good opportunity to take some photos and head to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) to check out some New York culture.

The next event we'll be attending is Develop next month. It runs from 12th – 14th July in Brighton, UK. The amazing Steff (Operations Manager at The Chinese Room) will be doing a talk on ‘How to Access Video Games Tax Relief.’ The rest of us will be attending Develop’s various drinks and networking events around that week of July. For a rundown of the event and the other talks available, you can find the full programme here. Hope to see you there!

Thanks!

Alex