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LA Game Space wants to upgrade and democratize the creative video game community. The non-profit company is aiming to create a facility in downtown Los Angeles where people of different disciplines can come together to research, collaborate, and make new forms of interactive entertainment. The founders also envision it to be a place for workshops, lectures, and more.
They’re currently trying to collect enough coins from backers (via Kickstarter) to unlock this promising center. Some of the prizes for donating include 30 exclusive, independently developed games (including a collaboration from the creator of the animated series Adventure Time), founders credit, T-shirts, and even a cameo in the next Bit.Trip Runner title.
I had a chance to talk with directors/co-founders Daniel Rehn and Adam Robezzoli, along with advisory board member Jeremy Douglass, about their objectives with LA/GS. Check out my interview to see why this just might be one of the most important new headquarters for the future of game theory, culture, and development.
Bitmob: Aside from the recent popularity of crowdsourcing, why is now a good time to try and create LA Game Space?
LA Game Space: We could come up with many reasons why now is the right moment: the growth of game culture, the evolution of the game industry, the crowdfunding zeitgeist, or the new ways that a center can be local and have a global impact.
Those are all great answers, but the truth is that LA Game Space is not just timely — it is probably long overdue. The industry, the public, and the city have all been ready for this for a while. A space for games in LA will be the perfect flashpoint for all that amazing energy that is already bubbling up and overflowing. Every day we spend without a space like it is going to be a missed opportunity.
Bitmob: Why did you choose downtown Los Angeles for LA Game Space and not somewhere with a more established industry presence like the Westside or San Francisco Bay Area?
LA/GS: LA Game Space should feel accessible no matter where you are in Los Angeles — or even in Southern California! Our space in the Arts District isn't that far from the Westside, but at the same time, it is walking distance from Union Station, so anyone from San Diego to Santa Barbara can take the train to LA and then walk to LA/GS without having to worry about traffic.
It is also important for an interdisciplinary center to be located somewhere central to practitioners from numerous fields. LA is full of interesting, talented video game creators: from large commercial developers to smaller independent one-person teams. It also has some of the best university-level video game programs in the world. LA is also a center for the arts, architecture — SCI-Arc is around the corner from our LA/GS — film, and many other fields with deep connections to games and gaming.
It’s probably not hard to tell that we love Los Angeles! Our challenge was finding a space that felt connected to all of it while making sure that the space was big enough to accommodate a range of side-by-side activities and affordable enough to be self-sustaining.
Bitmob: Do you plan to incorporate traditional industry people like big-budget developers, designers, publishers, etc. or primarily focus on the independent scene?
LA/GS: LA Game Space is open to anyone, whether you are part of the establishment, independent, or not even a traditional game maker. This is not about creating an exclusive group or targeting the best scene, but about reaching out to everyone and bringing people together.
If you have something beneficial to share with the public that relates to video games, then you should propose a workshop or a talk. If the research lab can aid your project, then you should apply to have access to it. If you are doing interesting work and desire to collaborate with others to explore the medium, you should apply for the residency.
Even our large network is only a fraction of the people who should be using this space. There will be numerous opportunities for everyone to present, share, and learn.
Bitmob: What inspired you to want to do something like LA Game Space?
LA/GS: One thing that defines LA Game Space for us is the idea of the residency, which ties together all the other activities of the space — talks, workshops, exhibitions, and more. They all flow together and orbit around a creative engagement with what games are. We are inspired by that vision and specifically by the example of great interdisciplinary cultural centers and labs like Ars Electronica FutureLab, Eyebeam, and ZKM.
Bitmob: Why should people outside of the region support this project, besides receiving access to the indie-game rewards and getting to hear the recorded talks online?
LA/GS: We are located in Los Angeles, but we're part of a global conversation, and we have structured the space and its activities so that everyone can take part in it. Some backers will enjoy remote participation in live streaming workshops and presentations with an online moderator. Others will look forward to what we'll be posting online and uploading to the Internet archive — catalogs, exhibition documentation, and the conversations surrounding them.
Backers who care about free information and open archives will love our initial research lab project to create a "video game experience archive." Since video games are an active medium, it is not enough to archive the games themselves. We will be recording video game playthroughs, along with useful metadata such as button presses, eye-tracking, and pulse-rate and then archiving this data online for anyone to access. Backers can feel good about contributing to the public record of games and gameplay, and increasing our knowledge about games for the benefit of everyone.
After all, supporting LA Game Space is about more than the rewards and opportunities. Even while planning this launch, we already met so many generous supporters who are really excited about creating something great. Will backers benefit directly from supporting LA Game Space? Absolutely, whether they are local or not. But this is also about being part of a global impact on the medium of games — and that can be its own reward.