Indie Arcade's showcase of videogames created by small but talented teams of Midwestern developers should dispel any notion that games don't deserve to be called art. If the demos and trailers made available on the event page hold up in person, the only two words that will tie the diverse array of games featured for people to play at this event will be "beautiful," and "fun." The retro-shooter Risk System mixes traditional side-scrolling shooter action and a compelling sci-fi plot, with a unique power-up system that compels the player to get in close to the enemy. Verdant Skies is a beautifully rendered, Harvest Moon-style farming game (in space!) where the player develops a colony and flirts with fellow space-people. Stacks On Stacks (On Stacks) takes Tetris into the 21st century, with 3-D blocks that must be balanced along Egyptian pyramids and musical notes. Manifold Garden is basically M.C. Escher in game form, as the player travels through crazy illusionistic landscapes to solve puzzles, while the arena-brawler The Moon Fields delivers fast-paced and quirky 8-bit fights with tons of characters and weapons.
With several other games announced for the night, the showcase should have something for a variety of gamers, from the casual to the fiercely competitive. Each game I've been lucky enough to play a demo of takes off on genre concepts where the corporate world of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo left off, invigorating an art form that only a few years ago seemed locked in the hands of multinationals. A $10 donation here will support Maydm, a local organization that helps students underrepresented in STEM fields find support for their education. —Reid Kurkerewicz