Dancing and playing are sister practices. When we dance or when we play we move, interact, focus, and get engaged in feedback loops that allow us to laugh, synchronize, and experiment. One of my favorite events at the Fantastic Arcade 2014 was the opportunity to experience the dancing of fandango, not as a traditional dance, but as a conversational practice between game designers. Although I was aware of the wacky aesthetics of indie game design, I was not totally aware of the amount of humor, improvisational comedy, and playfulness talk that indie game designers do until I listened to the conversation between Tim Schafer, the creator of the infamous adventure game Grim Fandango, and George Royer, a local indie game developer from White Whale studio, as well as the follow up Q&A with members of the Fantastic Arcade audience.
If you though Manny Calavera, the main character of Grim Fandango game was funny, mysterious, and puzzling, you would love to interact with Tim Schafer. During the conversation Tim was really engaging and fun, and openly talked about the process of making a noir adventure game inspired in the World of the Death’ Mexican folklore theme and in thriller films such as Casablanca and Chinatown. Besides telling jokes and secrets, Tim shared with the audience lots of details about the creative process of making the original version of Grim Fandango, as well as the challenges of producing a new release; the various sources of inspiration including Hollywood films, oral and visual Mexican tales; the writing and plotting processes; and tips for making puzzles and engaging the players. If you are curious about these issues and want to get at least the audio feel of what the conversation with Tim Schafer was, you can listen to the audio recording of it below.