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E3 2017: Indie games make a statement, tackle history at IndieCade showcase

UPI News Service, 06/16/2017 

IndieCade, tucked away in a corner at E3, past booths from mega-publishers like Activision and Bethesda, showcased a number of colorful and imaginative titles from independent game developers.

"[IndieCade] encourages, publicizes and cultivates innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic and culturally significant," read IndieCade's mission statement.

The games on display during the showcase -- which ranged from Disco Bear, a game about a dancing polar bear and One Way Trip, a psychedelic sci-fi visual novel about mortality -- all seemed to share common goals of either pushing boundaries or exploring new themes.

Borders, for example, by Macua Studios, has players taking on the role of a Mexican immigrant who is attempting to cross the border into the United States. Far from an easy task, players must stealthily avoid border patrol and stay hydrated by picking up water in order to make it to the other side.

A challenging title that features a look similar to games seen on the Atari, every time a player dies in Borders a skeleton is left behind at their last location in order to symbolize the large death toll claimed by Mexico's deserts.

"The game was inspired by my parents story who crossed the border 20 years ago," said Creative Director and Game Designer of Borders Gonzalo Alvarez to UPI. "I wanted to create a video game that was about immigration because of the current nature of our politics."

Borders is on sale now for Android phones through the Google Play Store and on PC.

Directly across from Borders was the still in development Somewhere in the South, a survival horror experience that takes place on the Underground Railroad as a runaway slave reaches for freedom.

"Somewhere in the South actually represents a true survival horror game that was played in real life," said developer Wonderneer. "I use the term 'game' appropriately, because to some slave hunters in the era of slavery, they thought of it as 'game.' A sport of hunting down humans as if they were animals."

Also standing out at IndieCade with its lesson in history was puzzle game The Cat and the Coup which explores the life of the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh who was overthrown by the CIA in 1953.

The Cat and the Coup has players taking on the role of Mossadegh's cat as you help guide the politician by knocking over objects, jumping onto his lap and by correctly tipping over a room to the left or right through multiple spaces that tell the story of Mossadegh's life starting from his death.

"You are just ostensibly an ineffectual cat. You tilting the room is a metaphor for shifting the balance of power and shifting his power and ability of what he can do," said Peter Brinson of how the cat represents the CIA covertly overthrowing Mossadegh.

The Cat and the Coup is available for free on PC through Steam with hopes to release for the Playstation in 4K resolution in the coming year.

Collectively, the games on display at IndieCade represented a new frontier for video games and a feeling that new up-and-coming creators are looking to send a message with their titles both politically and historically.

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