FOR ALL THE TALK about the "rise of the geek"—as evidenced by multiplexes crammed with Marvel superheroes, DVRs full of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, and your mom gleefully, repeatedly pissing away her retirement fund on goddamn Candy Crush—one critical, perennially misunderstood part of nerddom has yet to hit the mainstream. Gaming—of both the board-game variety and small, independently made videogames—still hovers at the edges.
That said, Portland's got a few gaming scenes, like those in the Portland Indie Game Squad (PIGSquad), an alliance of independent videogame designers, or those who attend the regular gatherings at gaming stores like Guardian Games to play everything from Dungeons & Dragons to Munchkin, or those who've been lured into addictive, social, German-style board games like the Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. At this year's Design Week Portland, both tabletop board games and indie videogames will get more attention thanks to the Stumpquest Games Fest, which'll showcase what Portland's game designers and players are currently up to.
Predictably enough, the stuff that sounds most exciting at Stumpquest is also the most interactive: An Indie Games Arcade (Sat Oct 12, Art Institute, 1122 NW Davis) will bring together local players and designers to try out and discuss videogames that come from passionate developers but lack the insane budgets of mainstream titles. For those who want to play games a little more... intently, there's an Indie Games Tournament (Fri Oct 11, 5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall), where the games will be played for all to see on the big movie screen, or a Gamelab Board Game Testing (Fri Oct 11, Art Institute), where participants can try out in-progress board games, "critiquing along the way to join the game design conversation."
But most intriguing are two events focused around using a simple desktop application called Twine to craft choose-your-own-adventure-style, text-based games. A Twine Workshop (Thurs Oct 10, Art Institute) will walk participants through the basics of turning their stories into interactive experiences—and once they've figured that out, a Twine Jam (Sat Oct 12, Art Institute) will give Twine makers a prompt, then challenge them to create their own unique Twine stories from it. And then the whole Stumpquest thing wraps up with a screening of the low-fi, Kickstarter-funded Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary (Sun Oct 13, 5th Avenue Cinema).
Stumpquest Games Fest, Thurs Oct 10-Sun Oct 13, locations and times at designweekportland.com.