Once again, I had the pleasure and good fortune to attend The 3rd Annual Bit Awards. While the first year and second year shows were a solo act on my part, I was joined this year by my colleagues Robert Grosso and Courtney Ehrenhofler. The Bit Awards makes for a generally much more relaxing event and it was nice to be able to spend time just talking to developers instead of furiously running around and taking notes. (Of course, I ended up doing some work anyway because I am a masochist, it seems.)
The show proper didn't begin until a little after 8:00 PM, but the doors opened much earlier than that. Over a dozen video game and tabletop developers had a sort of mini expo going on where you could get hands-on with their games. One of the nicest things about attending Playcrafting events is that they always have something there for the people to play, and more often than not it's from indies in the area.
This year's pre-show had the return of many familiar faces. The whole team behind Where Shadows Slumber was there—even their web developer. Across the way was Francisco Gonzalez (the man behind Lamplight City) and Adam Lichaan of Windy Games, the folks behind Miasma Caves. The tabletop portion was covered by Clear the Decks!, Hero: Tales of the Tomes, and other fine games. I spent a good hour catching up with everyone and finding out what they were working on.
While my colleagues went around playing some of the games, I ended up spending most of my time here catching up with developers regarding issues with their games or upcoming projects. I heard the phrase "I'm already working on the next one" (or a variant thereof) more times than I can recall, and some of the prospects were certainly exciting. Games at all levels of development were on display and it was lovely as always to be back in the fray.
After two hours of fun and conversation, it was time for the show to begin proper. This year's show was in a different venue than previous years and it showed. While the theater from 2016 and 2017 was a spacious affair with elevated seating, The 3rd Annual Bit Awards was instead hosted in a room that, at the minimum, felt smaller (though I hesitate to say if it really was).
The winners were announced one by one with the occasional trailer or musical performance in-between. This year's show suffered from an unfortunate number of production issues. Chief among these problems were errors in the graphics. There was also a number of mistimed cues, even going as far as revealing the winner of an award before it was announced. It was an uncharacteristically rough showing from a Playcrafting production.
It wasn't all bad, though. Carolina Ravassa was undoubtedly the highlight of the show, bringing warmth and energy to the stage. She was quite adept at rolling with the punches, stepping in whenever something seemed to be going awry. Similarly, the band led by Zack Zinger was equally entertaining and provided wonderful music throughout the show.
The 3rd Annual Bit Awards ran much later than expected. After its conclusion, the nominees, staff, and media were off to the after party. It was here that I was looking forward to the chance to talk with some of these fine folks in detail. ESC Games was hosting the party in their offices and provided a bunch of fun for everyone present.
One of the first things I set out to do was to speak with Miss Ravassa. I had interviewed her prior to the show and wanted to say hello. She was an absolute treat to speak with and still had plenty of energy after nearly two hours on stage. She spent a good portion of her time at the after party chatting with fans, posing for photographs, and signing autographs. I've never in my life met someone more well-suited to be an entertainer and the brief time I spent with her was my personal highlight of the weekend.
I also had an opportunity to speak with IGDA's Executive Director Jen MacLean. She was present to accept this year's Game Changer award and she has a solid history in the gaming world, stretching all the way back to her time as a playtester for Sid Meier's Civilization II. One of the things brought up about her background was the fact that she had multiple degrees in International Business and I was curious as to how she ended up in the gaming industry. She told me that her fencing instructor worked at Microprose and that ended up being her in. (Like many, she also feels that modern fencing has become a "flick-fest", much to the detriment of the sport.)
Playcrafting CEO Dan Butchko was an excellent host as always. I asked him about the technical glitches and he chalked it up to the fact that Playcrafting is currently in the midst of an explosive growth. He related to me how the very first shows had only dozens of people at them and now they are producing events with thousands of people. Essentially, The 3rd Annual Bit Awards fell victim to a bit of growing pains.
Speaking of growing, the biggest Playcrafting event to date was announced at the show. Play NYC 2019 has had its dates confirmed as August 10 & 11, 2019, and you can bet your butt that TechRaptor will be there in force like we were the first two years. We're still a ways off from being able to get tickets. If last year's show was anything to go by, it will be an experience that is not to be missed.
The 3rd Annual Bit Awards had some rough patches. All in all, it was a good showing at honoring some of the more interesting indie creators in the Playcrafting network. We're thankful for the opportunity to have met so many interesting people and all of us here are certainly looking forward to next year. Keep your eyes open for more news about Play NYC in the coming months.
What do you think of The 3rd Annual Bit Awards? What's your favorite indie game? Let us know in the comments below!