Bringing a sense of the social and interactive to digital events can be hard. It’s an issue that Melbourne International Games week have had to contend with two years in a row — but event producers have come up with some creative solutions. One of these is ACMI’s Big Games Night In, which returns in 2021 to delight audiences anew with a wide range of locally made artistic games, which will be available to download for free, 3-10 October.
The showcase exhibits the artistic range of Australia and New Zealand’s game development community.
ACMI videogames curator Arieh Offman described the digital event as being ‘a chance for people of all ages to enjoy a night of free family-friendly fun.’
‘With games suitable for players of different ages and abilities, and a wide range of genres, this is the perfect opportunity to discover unique and entertaining titles made right here in Australia,’ he said.
The Big Games Night covers a wide range of genres, from the chaotic co-operative title Moving Out, which won the 2020 AGDA for Game of the Year, to the highly anticipated Unpacking by Witchbeam Studio, which is set to release on 2 November. In this meditative narrative puzzler, you unpack a series of rooms across different time periods, slowly uncovering an intimate narrative about a young woman’s coming-of-age.
The Big Games Night In includes the previous two ACMI/RMIT Student Prizewinners: 2021 winner Completely Stretchy and Uncomfortably Sticky, which offers players a physics adventure through an idiosyncratic, pastel-toned town, and 2020 winner, David Chen’s Spiritwell. Spiritwell is a stunning pixel art title that received production funding from Film Victoria last year.
On top of these announced titles, the showcase will also feature other finalist titles from the 2021 Australian Game Developer Awards. The ADGA winners will be announced on Twitch at 7pm AEST on 7 October.
To provide a social element to the showcase, ACMI will also host a dedicated Discord channel for a week following the event, during which players can share their thoughts, ask questions, and even connect with the game developers. Both the Discord and the full list of downloadable games will be made available to participants on 3 October.
The full list of ACMI Big Games Night In playable games so far:
Unpacking (Witchbeam Games): is a calming zen game about the familiar experience of unpacking boxes and fitting them into a new home. Part colourful block-fitting puzzle, part home decoration, players are invited to create a satisfying living space while learning clues about the life they’re unpacking and reflecting on the things we choose to take with us and those we leave behind.
Moving Out (SMG Studios): A hilarious, physics-based moving simulator. Join your family or friends in this frantic couch co-op as you take on a variety of moving jobs around the town of Packmore.
Trios (Samurai Punk): a relaxing, minimalist maths puzzle game. Take your time, chill out with some numbers. Deceptively simple, surprisingly challenging.
Ring of Pain (Twice Different): a tough but fair card-based dungeon exploration game. Combat monsters, meet strange new friends and customise gear to try and survive.
Spiritwell (David Chen): In Spiritwell players enter a magical world full of memorable characters and explore in this non-violent adventure. This game is a unique homage to the era of 16-bit roleplaying games like early 90’s Zelda and Chrono Trigger.
Completely Stretchy and Uncomfortably Sticky (Dan Ferguson): In this award-winning and hilariously quirky physics-based game where you awake to find yourself strangely stretchy and sticking to everything as you make your way through an alien world full of endearing characters.
Topography (Cécile Richard): a Bitsy poetry game about online friendships, the golden age of Tumblr, closeness and closure.
A Long Goodbye ( Dana McKay): A Long Goodbye is an award-winning short narrative game about two friends who have to say a final goodbye over the phone. Chat along and find new pathways through the story each time you play.