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Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5 advent calendar | Pocket Gamer.biz

If you’re an indie developer, you can spread the word about your games by taking part in one of the Big Indie Pitch sessions. These competitions are an essential fringe event at the leading Pocket Gamer Connects games industry conferences.

On day 16 of the Pocket Gamer Connects advent calendar, we caught up with Big Indie Pitch manager Sophia Drake as she revealed what makes our pitching competitions special, and how we’ve moved the pitches online, and how well that’s worked.

Today, we catch up with her again as she offers her thoughts on how COVID-19 has affected the indie community, the return of live events and some of the amazing games she has seen at digital Big Indie Pitches.

PocketGamer.biz: How has this year of pandemic affected the indie community?

Sophia Drake: The coronavirus pandemic has certainly had a profound effect on the indie community. To start with the silver lining, the push for digital shows in order to fill the gap has provided many developers with new opportunities to get involved in shows and competitions. This is especially true of those who are in regions that are not often visited, and those with disabilities or a lack of funding.

Sadly this good is far outstripped by the consequences of the pandemic. There are of course the obvious issues, such as the financial and mental health impacts that have affected many people, which are even more important to those who are self-employed, like many indie developers are.

On top of this, one of the biggest complications is the lack of visibility and discoverability. Not only does this have an impact on the ability to acquire all important coverage pre-release, or support for the game post-release from the community and consumer, but it has also stilted each developer’s ability to acquire funding from investors, and their opportunities for publishing. As we all know everything is connected and these wider and industry-specific knock-on effects of the pandemic have affected the indie community quite profoundly.

Obviously, I think this is where the likes of the Big Indie Pitch can really help the community, and thankfully it’s not just us either, as I think that the gaming industry can be incredibly supportive and close-knit, and we have definitely seen people within the industry coming together to do their best this year. This is something I see at every pitch between both judges and developers.

We are planning to be in London in June. What are you looking forward to the most about that?

We most certainly are returning to London, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. London is always one of our biggest and most action packed competitions of the year and so just from that point of view it should be amazing. However, being back to hosting it live is making this even more exciting than normal. From thinking about standing on that stage and saying a big welcome to everyone, to the ability to play the games there and then, whilst also chatting with the developers over a drink. Oh and of course seeing the winner holding the ceremonial baseball bat. It all has me very very excited.

Beyond this though, anyone who knows me, knows I love travelling around the world in order to highlight new and undiscovered indie games, whilst also hanging out with everyone in person. So, 2021 has me excited for much more than London, and I’m very excited to be able to once again host pitches in the likes of San Francisco, Cologne, Helsinki and Busan to name but a few. It should be noted though that this doesn’t mean the end of the digital pitches either, as we’ll be blending our offering to both physical and digital in order to make sure as many developers have the opportunity to be a part of The Big Indie Pitch.

The Big Indie Pitch Mobile Edition at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4

Can you give some shout outs to any great games you’ve seen at the digital pitches in 2020? Do you have a personal favourite?

Of course! 2020 has been a year of surprises for all of us. Luckily for me, the pitch has offered up some really positive surprises too. Obviously every single game has impressed me, and I think this year we’ve had more honourable mentions than ever before. Honourable mentions are those that fall just outside the top three but that on any other day could have even won. So I think this alone is a testament to the quality of 2020.

I don’t want people to think that by me not mentioning them that means something, as truth be told for every game I name here I’m probably missing an amazing winner that will come to me just after we publish. Additionally, this question really should be an article in and of itself. Heck, let me just say right now, head over to https://www.bigindiepitch.com/games/ where you can see all of our winners, or any of our articles promoting all of the amazing games we’ve seen this year!

In terms of some of my personal highlights, though – firstly the one that instantly comes to mind is the The Digital Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital Helsinki (PC+Console Edition) winner Our America. To paraphrase my own winners’ article:

“Our America is a poignant autobiographical VR title that explores institutional police racism and life as a black American in America today. Within the game, players are placed into the shoes of a father and son who randomly get pulled over by the police on their way to school. From here, the audience must make quick decisions, answer questions, and constantly be aware of their very existence in the situation, as any wrong move is the difference between life and death.”

(Our America Trailer you can find here. Other trailers are in the linked articles if you want them.)

Honestly, it’s a very powerful title, and one that I think everyone should experience, especially if you would like a greater insight into the kind of prejudice and discrimination that black Americans face on a daily basis.

I first met the developer Bryant when speaking at The University of Southern California, and the premise of Our America, and his passion, impressed me so much I encouraged him to come along to the pitch, a pitch he later deservedly won, much to his own shock. It was a very humbling pitch, and a very deserving winner for not only the game, but also because of the message it is telling, and the passion of the developer.

Beyond Our America, our recent winner of the Mobile pitch Rallyallyally was incredibly impressive, mesmerizing and gorgeous and a game that I am super excited about. Alongside this, BattleBrew’s latest game Noodle SouperStar (this time a cooking game) was also super fun and full of life whilst also being engaging and enjoyable. Oh and it would be remiss of me to miss off our former Big Indie Awards third place winner Happy Volcano, and their crazy parking game You Suck At Parking.

Every single one of these are day one games for me, and I can say that they share that mindspace with the likes of Resident Evil: Village and NEO: The World Ends with You to name but two. For those who know me, they’ll know this is very high praise.

Thanks Sophia!

You can still sign up to take part in the Big Indie Pitch mobile, PC and console editions respectively. Both take place at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5 during the week of February 8th to 12th. Don’t miss out and sign up now! And if you want to practice before February’s conference, there is a standalone Big Indie Pitch in January.

A festive discounted offer

If you’re not taking part in the Big Indie Pitch, you can get a 10% discount on indie, developer/publisher and non-developer/publisher tickets by using code DECKTHEHALLS10 and booking now!

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