Edinburgh Interactive Festival '08
For the last eight or so years the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival has joined the other hoards of arts based festivals over the month of August, normally playing host to an industry conference and a few videos of upcoming games. This year's fest aims to have an expanded presence and is taking a step away from the mainly industry focused nature of previous years. As such it has (bizarrely) dropped the 'E' for entertainment, to become the EIF (not to be mistaken for the other EIF; the International festival).
Along with this slimline acronym come a host of new events to raise awareness of gaming the culture that surrounds it. With an ever expanding remit aimed firmly at the wider appreciation of games, this year the organisers are putting on a whole Film Season during the festival. While film season could arguably be an excessive turn of phrase for two movies (announced so far...), it is undeniably a good start.
Screening at the Filmhouse, each of the movies on show will be preceded by several short machinima peices; machinima being the use of games graphics engines and characters to produce movies. While it doesnt sound amazing, the things that can be done using today's games, and with a creative mind, can actually be quite impressive.
Tilt: The Battle to save Pinball follows the world's largest Pinball manufacturer as they try to revitalise their ailing industry by combining the classic Pinball machine with video games. Having been well received amongst critics and praised for its story telling, this could well be on to watch. (showing Sat 9th)
Second Skin is the award winning documentary about the life and times of a selection of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) players through theirs lives, delivering a unique view of some of the people that play these games. (showing sun 10th)
Channel 4 are stepping into the fray with their 4Talent Arcade workshops, a set of training presentations and competitions aimed at helping young talent get involved in the video games industry. There will be expert panels offering advice on a range of things including acquiring funding and the management of projects. 4Talent Arcade will also be running a design competition at the festival, with the brief provided by four Scottish game developers, with the chance for anyone who enters to win coveted work placements at these studios.
On top of all this extra goodness there will be an expanded array of game screenings and play sessions taking place during the festival at the Edinburgh International Conference centre. Ubisoft will be showing off the astounding looking Far Cry 2. Dundee locals Proper Games will be showcasing their sheep based, alien hoarding problem solver Flock and Codemasters will be showing a whole selection of their latest online offerings.
With all these extra events in the offering, along with the more usual game screenings, all being offered up for free, EIF is clearly expanding its horizons. While maintaining and expanding the offerings for the hardcore gamer, there are a few things to get those less gamepad inclined involved. Which is no bad thing.
The Edinburgh Interactive Festival runs between the 10th and 12th of August, at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. [Josh Wilson]