Curator Pepijn Willekens.

The most revolutionary medium of the 21st century, as the organizers of Different Perspectives games. Visitors can discover the artistic potential of that medium during the festival. “The aim of this festival is to show the cultural value that lies in games to a wide audience,” explains curator Pepijn Willekens (25). “Because a lot of people are not familiar with that at all.”

Willekens worked in recent years as a game developer for different studios. “Several years ago I was also part of The House of Indie, a collective that organized festivals around video games including Screenshake. During that period, my passion for the artistic behind video games arose. But since that collective ceased to exist in 2018, there has been a hiatus in the way artistic games work in Flanders,” Willekens explains.

Different Perspectives need to fill that gap again. The festival consists on the one hand of the exhibition Relive/Herleef. It exhibits games that provide new insights into what games can be, both in form and content. Visitors can expect an overview of ten national and international autobiographically inspired games on themes such as war, mourning, mental health problems, love,…

“Those games were made by small teams or individuals. They tell unique stories that turn them into something playable, into something interactive that the player is a part of. They are works that cannot be converted to other media and the player occupies a unique place in it.”

From when is a game considered an artistic product? “That is of course a difficult question, the question from when something can be called art. For me, a game is artistic when the game focuses on giving a message, when it incorporates a social theme.”

Curator Pepijn Willekens. © Joris Herregods

Still a lot of growth margin

Visitors can play the selected games during the festival. For example, there is a game called Brukel wears. “In that game, the maker, Bob De Schutter, revives his grandmother’s childhood memories during the Second World War. The grandmother then lived in a house in Geel and the game takes place there. In a first chapter you as a player learn more about the objects in the house. Later, the Germans invade during the occupation.” Another game is called Coming out Simulator. “You play your way through the process that the creator of the game went through to tell their parents that he is gay. There was a lot of reaction to that game from players who recognized themselves in it.”

A networking day for professionals will then take place on 21 January. The exhibition aims to build bridges between different sectors. “There is still a lot of growth margin for artistic games in our country. With this networking day we want to facilitate that growth of artistic productions.”

And the last weekend, January 28-30, the Global Game Jam will continue. About forty creative minds are brought together here, from musicians and writers to game developers. 48 hours later they present the prototypes of the games they have developed at that time.

“We already have the intention to Different Perspectives every year,” says Willekens. “I would also like to set up exhibitions in other cultural houses. In that regard, Het Bos is a great first step for me.”

Plum Road Tea Dream, one of the games at the Relive/Revive expo.

Plum Road Tea Dream, one of the games at the Relive/Revive expo. © rr

Het Bos: Anchorrui 5-7, 2000 Antwerp. All info: www.differentperspectives.be

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