An Interview With Playtopia MGA 2019’s Festival Director
Playtopia MGA 2019
Taking cues from international alternative games festivals, Playtopia MGA 2019 marks South Africa’s debut homegrown celebration of games and interactive art in Cape Town.
Playtopia and Make Game Africa (MGA) have joined forces to make one ecstatic 3-day event where attendees can revel in local and international indie games, eye-melting interactive and digital art and a killer music line-up! There will be two conferencing streams available to delegates this year, the MGA Business To Business Conference and the Playtopia Talks aimed at delegates interested in the creative side of game development.
I caught up with Dominique Gawlowski, Festival Director, to find out more about the event and what they have planned:
This year’s Playtopia MGA event looks like it’s going to be bigger and better than previous years. What’s new at this year’s event?
The biggest change of the event is the merging of MGA and Playtopia into one event. This is how we are managing to bring gaming giants like Ubisoft, Unity and Devolver into the fold and have them come to SA and see what we have on offer.
Awesome! So, tell me about the partnership between Playtopia and MGA?
It made sense for us to merge in that MGA was very conference focussed, attracting the business talent and us being very artistically and entertainment focussed, attracting creative talent. These two should be in the same networking space if we are wanting to have any actual effect on the growth of this industry in South Africa. Potential investors and business owners need to see what talent can do in a tangible way. We are in a unique position being located in one of the top tourist destinations in the world during a northern hemisphere winter in an exciting and somewhat mysterious economic territory. The willingness of these industry titans to come down and see us, talk to us, has been incredibly encouraging.
What is your role in the organisation of Playtopia MGA this year?
I am the festival director. And only one of an extremely hard-working team.
Dominique Gawlowski, Festival Director
And tell me about the venue for Playtopia in Cape Town; what can attendees expect?
The event is hosted at The Castle of Good Hope, which works for us on so many levels. Not just from a general layout point of view, such as the novelty of experiencing artworks while walking through dungeons, or dance to music inside a giant pond, but also from a symbolic point of view. A video game and technological art festival happening inside the oldest most historic building fraught with colonial controversy that is all about promoting Africa and its ability to join this global community is marvellous to me. Experiential eventing is the future and it’s amazing to see this happen in a historical space.
Specifically for gamers, what will be on offer for them that’s never been seen in SA before?
Playtopia MGA is the only gaming event focussed on African game development and being able to play over 40 games in two giant arcades that showcase the very best of local and international games. The Superfriendship Arcade is something to behold, the ingenuity of creating custom controller games and being able to experience them on a large scale has never been done before here.
So, which of the speaker’s talks or workshops would you advise attendees definitely don’t miss?
That is a hard one, each speaker was brought here for a unique purpose and the best I can advise is that people read their talk topics and bios and decide who is most relevant for their personal journey, that could help them navigate their own paths in this industry.
And what are the exhibitions all about? And are there any exhibitors on the programme that stands out for you?
The exhibitions are all about experiencing artworks that use technology to create. Many of which are interactive allowing visitors to affect the artwork. We have 3 levels of immersive and interactive art with 9 artists ranging from VR to light painting to AI integrated installations. It’s all quite a mind blow really. On a personal level, I am quite excited about Tulips and Chimney’s installation. I am a big fan of their work, as well as Method Lab’s artwork. Last year they brought us the oil painting mirror and we are super excited for their piece this year!
Lastly, why should everyone attend this year’s Playtopia and not just gaming enthusiasts?
People often don’t realize that indie games are incredible works of art which can be appreciated by anyone who has the capacity to appreciate an animation, a good book, a challenging puzzle or is a lover of the arts. Most of all are the immersive aspect of the event. It is such a thrill to experience that, you don’t need to be a gamer to love the Zeitz Museum or Ratanga Junction. If you love digital art as a medium, love music and have a curiosity for the potential of technological art then you have come to the right place.
Playtopia MGA details
Date: 5 December 2019 – 7 December 2019
Times: Thursday 10:00 – 00:00 / Friday 10:00 – 01:00 / Sunday 10:00 – 01:00
Venue: Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town
Tickets: R180 – R5000 available on Quicket
This event is a strictly 18+
MGA tickets and Playtopia Talks tickets will be priced differently, and whilst an MGA ticket gives you complete all-access, a Playtopia Talks ticket will not give you access to the MGA talks.