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What’s Your Spiel? An Exhibition of Digital Games by German-Speaking Independent Developers

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 – Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Deutsches Haus at NYU

Exhibition opening: September 17, 6:30pm

What’s your Spiel? is an exhibition of independent computer games made in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Created by individuals or small teams, these games don’t have the financial support of video game publishers, yet this independence gives designers the opportunity to experiment and to take creative risks that are otherwise impossible in the mainstream industry. This freedom often results in beautiful, provocative, and intriguing pieces of art.

Over the past few years, independent games have come to play a larger role in the game industry. A recent article by The New York Times titled "Indies Grab the Controls at a Game Conference" talks about how the industry’s annual convention was dominated by independent games rather than mainstream games, unlike in previous years. The recent rise of independent games is a result of new channels of digital distribution, more accessible tools, and crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter.

Today, cultural institutions and museums are beginning to explore the intersection between fine arts and gamer culture. In November 2012, The Museum of Modern Art announced that it will be adding games to its permanent collection. This March, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organized a one-day arcade in collaboration with Babycastles, a New York–based game and art collective. These exhibitions allow game designers to reach a broader audience and establish their craft as an art form.

The exhibition What’s Your Spiel? at Deutsches Haus at NYU highlights independent video game designers from the German-speaking world. While the independent game scene in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is still in its infancy, many visually stunning, thought-provoking, and critically acclaimed games have been created there over the past couple of years. This exhibition will share their amazing stories and inspirations, and also present the fascinating process of making video games.

The following five games, which engage with a variety of topics such as nature, gender, and art, will be showcased at What’s Your Spiel? All of them experiment with the known and unknown and confront players with unfamiliar situations. This is what makes these independent games special.

-    And Yet It Moves, by the Vienna-based studio Broken Rules, is a physics-based platform game in which players rotate the game world at will to solve challenging puzzles.
-    Feist is an exploratory game designed by Zurich-based Florian Faller and Adrian Stutz. Players set out for a journey over high mountains and through deep forests.
-    Krautscape is a multi-player racing game designed by Swiss game designer Mario von Rickenbach in which players build the track during the race.
-    Perfect Woman, by the German game designer Lea Schönfelder and U.S.–based game developer Peter Lu, reflects on how society has shaped the image of a perfect woman, an ideal that is often unattainable.
-    Spirits is a puzzle designed by the Berlin-based game studio Spaces of Play. Players manipulate natural elements like earth and wind to guide glowing spirits through the world, helping them overcome obstacles. 

Game designer Lea Schönfelder will join us for the exhibition opening. She will present her game "Perfect Woman" and will talk about her ideas and visions behind this game.

What’s Your Spiel? is curated by Franziska Zeiner, a graduate student at the NYU Game Center.

What's Your Spiel? is presented with the generous support of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany New York, the NYU Game Center, and Lufthansa.

Events at Deutsches Haus are free of charge. Please let us know which event you would like to attend by sending us an email to deutscheshaus.rsvp@nyu.edu. Space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event. Thank you!