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Bit Bash Aims to Be the Indie Video Game Summer Camp You Never Knew You Always Wanted

Four years ago, a new festival emerged called Bit Bash. The goal? Introduce Chicagoans to amazing video games they might not otherwise get a chance to see in an engaging environment. Chicago based developers picked 30 games for the first festival while raising money for Chicago Loot Drop. Since its second year, it’s been picking up speed by introducing more games and expanding, holding the event at bigger spaces. It’s also been introducing themes to the mix. This year’s theme? Summer camp.  

For this year’s event, Bit Bash will offer “campers” over 40 indie games from all over the world. In addition, they’ll also have an assortment of interactive art installations, local food and music that are all meant to extend a friendly hand out to those who may not identify as gamers but are interested in exploring the art form in a safe welcoming space.

One of our favorite things about the event is what the organizers stand for. In addition to championing indie artists of all genders and nationalities, they collaborate with fantastic nonprofits to make a difference in our local area. For example, Bit Bash teamed up with local educational institutions such as the Adler Planetarium and After School Matters to create an interactive quiz designed to help people find what things they’ll be likely most interested in at the festival. Though somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it did steer us towards exploration games, something we indeed enjoy.

Photograph courtesy of Bit Bash. Photograph by Brent Knepper.

Experiences at this year’s Bit Bash will run the gamut with many things to chose from. Of course you’ll find family friendly buzzworthy arthouse indie titles, but you’ll also find noteworthy virtual reality projects as well as queer and kink friendly sex positive games for adults. The festival will include multiplayer games, which organizers hope will create a more social environment. Organizers also emphasize “games that explore relationships with nature” coupled with an outdoor gaming space that explores Bit Bash’s theme of summer camp while encouraging active physical interaction.

While Bit Bash may still be in its infancy compared to things like like Printer’s Row and Lollapalooza, it represents an often overlooked part of Chicago’s creative scene while bringing to the forefront some amazing creations you won’t see anywhere else. Indie City Collective, where Bit Bash finds its roots, is a group dedicated to growing and encouraging that scene, and “making Chicago a better place to make games.” We’d argue that’s worth taking a chance on.

Photograph courtesy of Bit Bash

If you’re wanting to get away to camp, you can grab tickets for this weekend’s bash for $30 online or $35 at the door. For more information on Bit Bash, check out their website. Bit Bash takes place 2-11pm Saturday at Revel Fulton Market, 1215 W. Fulton St.

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