May 24, 2021 - Technology

The Tribeca film festival adds games

Sable, one of eight games selected for the Tribeca Festival.
Sable, one of eight games selected for the Tribeca Festival. Screenshot: Shedworks/Raw Fury

The 20-year-old Tribeca Film Festival, traditionally held in downtown New York City, will include eight games as official selections this year.

Why it matters: The video game industry often exudes an inferiority complex as it compares itself to cinema, but this is a case of a film institution veering toward games as an art form.

  • The games will be in a jury competition for a proper festival award: Potential For Excellence In Art and Storytelling.

"We're really wanting to make a statement that games are not separate," Tribeca Games vice president Casey Baltes told Axios.

Between the lines: Some 60 games were submitted for consideration before Baltes and her team whittled the list to eight.

  • Selections include the desert exploration adventure "Sable" as well as "12 Minutes," a forthcoming "interactive thriller" in which players oversee what happens in an apartment during a repeatable 12-minute loop
  • While Tribeca is looking for games that showcase storytelling, Baltes said she urged entrants to not worry if their game was cinematic or told its story through other more filmic or textual approaches.
  • Games, after all, can tell a story through what you do in them.

COVID has already wreaked havoc with film festivals, and showcasing in-development games present altogether different challenges on top of that.

  • While there are no communal showings of the eight games announced, anyone interested in playing the games can sign up to play a demo — 12 to 60 minutes' worth — through a streaming program called Parsec.

What's next: The Tribeca Festival (they dropped the word "film" this year), has featured games in one-off ways since 2011, but co-founder Jane Rosenthal hopes this bigger commitment will continue and expand.

  • "I want to see it be a real robust competition for games, the same way you have robust competitions for films," she told Axios. "I think that the worlds are colliding in interesting ways, and I'm excited about giving it a platform."
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