Indie Game Design at the ‘Sundance’ of Gaming Festivals

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The new iPhone means more mobile games…that can be small and beautiful. We hear about the world of Indie gaming design with IndieCade founder Stephanie Barish and festival directorSam Roberts. Plus, the…

The new iPhone means more mobile games…that can be small and beautiful. We hear about the world of Indie gaming design with IndieCade founder Stephanie Barish and festival directorSam Roberts. Plus, the 6th Street Viaduct gets nearer to finding its replacement; we hear about three visions for a bridge that does more than connect Point A to Point B, with Councilman José Huizar, Lewis MacAdams, Alex Ward, Juan Murillo, Ted Zoli, Ron Yee, and Mary Margaret Jones.

Banner image: Contre Jour, designed by Mokus

A New Direction for the Sixth Street Bridge

6th street

One of LA’s landmarks is the Sixth Street Bridge, an 80-year old viaduct connecting Boyle Heights to downtown with a 3500 feet span. Now the bridge is sick—with what’s being described as “concrete cancer”—and back in April we reported that the Bureau of Engineering had put out a call to designers internationally to compete to create an iconic replacement. Alex Ward heads up the Friends of the Los Angeles River, and he describes why he pushed for years to ante up the ambition for the new bridge. Now the City has narrowed down the Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement competition to three teams—HNTB, AECOM and Parsons Brinckerhoff—and last week, at Puente Learning Center in Boyle Heights, they started the first of four public presentations. Among those present was Councilman José Huizar, who represents the 14th district, which includes the Sixth Street bridge. The councilman grew up in Boyle Heights, and describes why the bridge had a meaning for him that made him resistant at first to change.

To get an idea of the three bridge concepts, Frances speaks to a representative from each team: Engineer Juan Murillo from Parsons Brinckerhoff; Ron Yee, bridge designer for AECOM, andTheodore Zoli, bridge engineer for HNTB. Although the primary objective for the bridge is to carry vehicles, the designs also include pedestrian walkways, bike lanes and green spaces, and landscape architect Mary Margaret Jones of Hargreaves explains how these features help the bridge become a greater asset to the neighborhoods it connects. Finally, FoLAR co-founderLewis MacAdams chimes in with his thoughts on how the bridge will bring more attention to the changing river.

The Bureau of Engineering, with Cal Trans, will make its recommendation for the winning team in October, after hearing from the public, from political representatives and from the Design Aesthetic Advisory Committee. If you’d like to see the designs for yourself and weigh in, the final public meeting is tonight, Tuesday, September 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center, 1600 E. 4th Street. Details here.

Here are images and animations from all three finalists.

Parsons Brinckerhoff with Safdie Rabines Architects and Mia Lehrer + Associates




 AECOM with bridge designer Ron Yee




HNTB, with Michael Maltzan Architecture and Hargreaves Associates




All images courtesy of the Bureau of Engineering


Game Designers and Developers Converge for IndieCade


Image is from the game Bloop that uses an iPad or iPhone’s touchscreen as a gameboard

When the iPhone 5 was presented last week, Apple made a point of how its faster processor, better graphics and light, thin, larger screen will be a boon for video gamers. Increasingly people are playing games on mobile devices instead of on computers and consoles. So game designers are busy trying to target this booming market, and that includes independent designers—sole operators or small teams who create games almost as passion projects. Some of these games will go on display starting October 4 at the IndieCade festival here in Los Angeles. IndieCade founder and CEO Stephanie Barish and festival director Sam Roberts describe the changing landscape of the indie gaming industry, and how design plays a big role. If you want to experience one of these indie games for yourself, try Frances’ favorite: Contra Jour, featuring a little eyeball that has to chase turquoise dots down globular hills that are shaped into slopes by your finger, all to the sound of soothing piano music.

We have five pairs of tickets to give away to IndieCade. If you’d like to win, head over to theDnA blog to enter.


A screengrab from Contra Jour, a soothing, almost meditative game

BlindSide is a somewhat-terrifying “audio adventure” game using sound to create a virtual reality