When we started the workshop in 2002, some developers found it hard to imagine experimental games influencing our community (even though there is a tradition of experimentation that extends far back to the beginning of our craft). So we made a page on the original site to list our shout-outs.
It’s much more obvious now that when a room packed with game designers see 10-15 experimental games, they get inspired. So at some point, we stopped updating this page. But we’ve kept it here as a reminder that it wasn’t always clear why experimental prototypes are crucial to the creative and financial growth of our industry.
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In 2003, EGW organizers saw Katamari at the Tokyo Game Show, when Americans knew nothing of the game. Our friend Masaya Matsuura helped us invite Keita Takahashi (the game’s designer) to speak at the 2004 session – where he demonstrated the final game and described the inspirations behind it. Katamari became a critical hit, and when he returned to lecture at the GDC in 2005, Keita said the following (translated from Japanese):
I’d like to thank the staff of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. This fact is not well-known, but last year my participation at the EGW was the trigger for my participation in E3. After last year’s workshop the attendees told their bosses about how excited the audience was about my game, which led to my participation in E3 and the release of my game in the US. Everything went on smoothly from there. Thank you very much for your support at last year’s conference.
Rag Doll Kung Fu
Mark Healey (Little Big Planet) presented this experimental, independent game at the 2005 workshop. The audience loved it, and so did some employees of Valve Software, who accosted him immediately after his presentation. Mark signed an online publishing and distribution deal with Valve, and the game was released in October 2005.
Darwinia is an independent game by Introversion Software. An RTS played on a stylized computer-ish landscape, it was inspired by the Indie Game Jam games we demonstrated in 2002. This particular jam was about displaying huge numbers of little sprites on the screen at once (a novel concept at the time). One of the game’s stylistic hallmarks is still the flocks of little 2D sprite men that you command indirectly.
Eye Toy AntiGrav
Greg LoPiccolo and Rob Kay of Harmonix (Rock Band, Guitar Hero) demonstrated EyeToy AntiGrav at the 2005 Workshop. At that time, Greg pointed out that Casey Muratori’s Owl Simulator (another Indie Game Jam game), which was presented at the workshop in 2003.
Sense of Wonder Night
Sense of Wonder Night, which began in 2008 in conjunction with Tokyo Game Show, was also directly inspired by the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. Specifically, it helps create a dialog between Japanese developers who work for different companies about the potential of the medium!