Another IndieCade has come and gone. More than any other game event each year, IndieCade feels like a game version of a film festival, chock-full of smart lectures, exhibitions of top independent and experimental games, and a social scene that brings together the indie developer community.

This year, in addition to enjoying the festival, I took home two of the top honors. The as-yet unpublished board game I am creating with John Sharp, Armada d6, won the Game Design award. Interference, a game installation I created with Nathalie Pozzi, won the Interaction award. As a juried competition of videogames, tabletop games, sports, larps, field games, and other independently produced playthings, I was honored by these wins. (The Metagame was also an official selection this year, but didn’t win anything.) You’ll be hearing more about developments with all of these games in the near future.

I also took part in a number of talks at Indiecade. I interviewed play theorist and practitioner Bernie DeKoven onstage for one of the conference keynotes. Bernie and I had a tremendously fun time discussing his early work in theater and education, the New Games Movement, and how his ideas from decades past relate to games today. (They do!) The image above is from a game he played with the audience – a team-based version of Rock-Paper-Scissors with player-created content and gestures.

“Being a Game Designer: 10 Principles for a Thoughtful Practice” was a talk I gave about my own game design practice. The talk was inspired by the thought that most talks about game design are about games – what makes them good or bad, and how we can make better ones. But I wanted to discuss instead the question of what it would mean to approach game design as a practice – like a martial art – a regular activity for self-betterment. Below is a pic of me with the 10 principles. Bernie DeKoven wrote a quick review of the audience game I played to illustrate principle 2 (Become a Gardener of Meaning).

One of my game design heroes, Stone Librande, gave a talk about my game Armada d6 as part of the Well-Played festival track. It was slightly unreal – like getting a boxing lesson with Muhammed Ali. (Luckily he liked the game!) I also took part in a panel about game mechanics with inspiring designers like Rob Davieu, Adam Spragg, Lau Korsgaard, and Adam Russel. While I loved many of the games I played at IndieCade, Adam’s Renga – a 100-person game played with laser pointers on a cinema screen – was probably the highlight of the conference for me. It felt like witnessing the birth of a new genre.

Between the games, the awards, the talks, and the socializing, IndieCade 2012 really delivered. Not sure how I am going to top it next year, but I will try.