GDC 2016 was filled with events to attend, if you knew just where to look, whether it was invitations in your inbox, word of mouth from newfound friends, or even just being at the right place at the right time. While there were certainly many, by far, and perhaps one of the most entertaining ones, was the Dutch Multiplayer and Prototype Event, held at the Harlot.
Walking in, the room was dark, filled with red lighting, and quirky Victorian paintings. It was two floors, with the bar on the lower level. Walking in, hearing the upbeat music, one expected to find people dancing, but instead what I saw was even better: people playing games and showcasing them on their iPads and laptops. On the top floor, some had hooked up their consoles, ready to play and share their games with whoever wished to participate.
Here’s the list of the games that made the cut:
- Should Shoot, by Emiel Kampen, owner of Prrrpl (Purrple) and Indie game designer. It is a competitive ‘two-players-on-one-screen’ game for mobile devices, available on iOS devices now. Android’s release date is to be announced. There are different game modes, like Rocket Mode, or Simple Mode, but overall, the basis is the same: there’s two players, and each one uses a finger to pull a ball toward themselves, aim and charge it up, before releasing. The reason we love this game: it’s fun, and it’s about social interaction. Too few games encourage social interaction these days, but this one uses simple fun to bring people together and just have a great time.
- Tied Together, from napalmtree, an indie Dutch studio composed of Ivo Geelhoed and Luuk Waarbroek. The idea behind the game is that there’s a group of 4 players who have to focus on teamwork in order to survive. The four characters you play as are experiments that have to escape, but there’s a rope tying them together, hence why teamwork is so important. Everyone needs to do their part, or else crazy things like spikes can happen. The reason we love this game: it’s hilarious and encourages social interaction. We had the pleasure of playing this game with the team, and it was beyond entertaining. Upon interviewing Luuk, the emphasis he kept repeating was teamwork, and in our opinion, they definitely got the message across effectively.
- Tricky Towers, by WeirdBeardGames. This action puzzler is a lot like Tetris in that it has blocks, but…it’s…dare we say…better?! The objective is to build a tower using the blocks, and make sure it doesn’t tip over, but there’s other elements to keep mindful of, like spells that can either support your tower, or sabotage your opponent’s. The reason we love this game: it’s an interesting reworking of something we’ve seen before and love. It brings back some nostalgic feelings, but more importantly, it’s frustratingly exciting to play.
- Chalo Chalo, by Sharpweed, the two man studio composed of Richard Boeser and Tomasz Kaye. This multiplayer racing game is meant for up to 8 players, but it certainly doesn’t look like any racing game you’ve ever seen. Don’t be fooled, it may look like art, but it certainly has hidden gems, like tar bombs that can slow your opponents down. The reason we love this game: it’s unique in its appearance, but it’s very much familiar once we play it.
- SwimGames, by Studio Lapp, also another two man team, composed of Mark van Kuijk and Menno Deen. Taking on a completely different spin than most of the gaming industry, these two gentlemen set out to create something lifechanging: a game that helps battle the increasing number of obesity in the Netherlands. Due to low physical activity, many Dutch children are battling weight gain. On the other hand, swimming is a great way to stay, or get into shape. The reason we love this game: SwimGames aims to take video games into the pool, not only to entertain, but to help promote great health.
This year’s GDC may have had many events to attend, but the Dutch lineup was by far, the most varried in its games, and the most relaxed, and friendly we were fortunate enough to attend. We’d like to give our thanks to everyone we interviewed, and say we loved getting to hear more.
Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Tomasz Kaye as Roland IJzermans.