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Hideo Kojima headlines the inaugural Tribeca Games Festival

Why it matters to you

The arrival of the Tribeca Games Festival signals the growing cultural importance and influence of video games as a medium.

Six years ago, the Robert De Niro co-founded Tribeca Film Festival became the first major event of its kind to dip into the world of video games when it honored Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire. Tribeca kept up with its trend of promoting narrative-rich games in recent years and at this year’s event, games will receive a festival of their own.

The Tribeca Games Festival will take place during the closing stretch of the film festival on April 28-29 at Spring Studios in New York City. Created in partnership with Kill Screen, the festival will examine the intertwinement of games, entertainment, and culture.

On opening night, British DJ Mura Masa will take the stage to kick things off, and Telltale Games will be in the house to put on a “crowd-play” session with episode one of its spin on Guardians of the Galaxy.

The festival will host an impressive lineup of industry veterans, including keynote presentations from Hideo Kojima, Ken Levine, and Sam Lake. Kojima is set to discuss how films have influenced his work, but he’s also slated to talk about what’s next for him — presumably Death Stranding. Levine, the BioShock series creator, will speak on his experience with interactive storytelling. Lake, the man behind Max Payne, Alan Wake, and most recently, Quantum Break, will talk about his novel brand of narrative in games.

Beyond the keynote speakers, representatives for some of the most praised AAA and indie titles will give presentations. Overwatch senior designer Michael Chu will discuss how Blizzard created its eclectic cast of characters. Campo Santo studio director Sean Vanaman is on the bill to discuss Firewatch. Davey Wreden, the creator of The Stanley Parable and The Beginner’s Guide, will dive into his design philosophy.

The conversations will touch on outside influences as well. Stoic Studio co-founder John Watson will reveal how The Banner Saga was influenced by Sleeping Beauty. Jonathan Morin, creative director on Watch Dogs 2, will describe how Ubisoft created the intricately connected open-world of San Francisco that is marked with real-world issues such as overarching surveillance, housing crises, and diversity in tech.

Additional panels and presentations:

  • Winslow Porter, Milica Zec, and Tracy Fullerton: On environmental awareness in games

  • Ian Dallas: On What Remains of Edith Finch

  • Robin Hunicke with Maureen Fan: On joy in VR

  • Owlchemy Labs: On the future of VR with the team behind Job Simulator

  • Brett Leonard, Jessica Brillhart, and Carrie Witt: On discovering images of the future with today’s tools

  • Retro Active: A critical look at the games of 2016

Hands-on previews of upcoming and recently released games from Might and Delight, Finji Games, Giant Sparrow, and other studios will be available for attendees.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday for $40. $70 tickets grant access to both the Tribeca Games Festival and the Tribeca Immersive, the film festival’s interactive virtual reality event.