The Smithsonian American Art Museum is inviting independent video game developers to show their work at the museum's annual SAAM Arcade this August 5-6, 2017. Jesse Ozog, a game developer from the Washington, DC area and one who has exhibited at SAAM's 2015 and 2016 Arcades, shares his insights and experiences for those of you thinking of participating.
The SAAM Arcade is truly one of my favorite events in DC for showing indie games. I am honored to have been a part of two previous events (formerly called the Indie Arcade), showing my game Dr. Spacezoo: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Save the Animals. SAAM Arcade allowed me to exhibit my game to a packed, all-ages crowd in one of the most beautiful venues in DC, the museum’s Kogod Courtyard.
For first-time exhibitors at the Arcade, be sure to come prepared with a banner, signs, handouts, as large a TV as will fit into your allotted space, and plenty of food and water (not that you will have much time to eat or drink it while engaging with attendees). If your game is still in development, there is no better place to give many new and diverse people the opportunity to play your game.
One of my favorite aspects of the Arcade is talking with other indie teams before the event officially opens and the crowd storms in. Every team has poured a lot of talent and energy into creating their game, and it's really wonderful to share in the excitement with the other indie game teams. Oh, and the crowd does storm in! The 2016 SAAM Arcade was attended by over 11,000 people, which kept the indie games area packed with eager players for the entire exhibit. I brought a four player co-op setup for Dr. Spacezoo and the controllers barely touched the table the entire day!
I also really love the transformation of the SAAM's Kogod Courtyard from the calm, early hours of setup into the boisterous midday hours, and finally into a dark, illuminated video game wonderland after dusk. The courtyard is truly magical once the sun finally sets.
To submit your game, fill out this form by April 15, 2017. Also, provide a playable demo of your game along with screenshots, a short, tweetable description, and game requirements. For questions about the submission process or about the SAAM Arcade contact SAAMArcade@si.edu. I'm really pleased to see indie games, classic arcades, retro games, and all other forms of experimental audiovisual media find a warm and inviting home at the SAAM Arcade! I hope to see you there.
Selected developers will be notified by June 12. Games are juried by a panel of developers, industry veterans, critics, and academics chosen by DC's IGDA chapter and American University's Game Lab. Last year 32 independent developers were selected, and this year student submissions are being accepted with a valid .edu email address.