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Inaugural Tribeca Games Festival to Be Headlined by ‘Metal Gear’ Creator Hideo Kojima

Variety logo Variety 3/29/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

The Tribeca Film Festival has caught the video-game bug in a much bigger way: This year, it’s launching the Tribeca Games Festival, a two-day event kicking off with a keynote conversation with legendary game creator Hideo Kojima.

The inaugural Tribeca Games Festival, taking place April 28-29, also will feature conversations with Ken Levine, director and writer of the “BioShock” series, and Sam Lake, creator of “Max Payne,” “Alan Wake” and “Quantum Break,” as well as demos and discussion panels. The event, produced in association with indie games publisher Kill Screen, will be held at the Tribeca Festival Hub at Manhattan’s Spring Studios.

Industry trailblazer Kojima is the creator of the “Metal Gear” stealth-action game franchise, published by Konami, which first launched 30 years ago. He was awarded the Game Developers Choice Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science’s Hall of Fame last year, and received the Game Awards’ Industry Icon Award this past December. (Kojima’s Twitter bio says “70% of my body is made of movies.”)

The Tribeca Games Festival is slated to include a discussion of VR-themed movie “The Lawnmower Man” on its the 25th anniversary with filmmaker Brett Leonard and Jessica Brillhart, Google’s principal filmmaker for VR; plus panels with developers of recent and upcoming games such as “Overwatch,” “The Banner Saga,” “Firewatch,” “Job Simulator,” “The Stanley Parable,” “Watch Dogs 2” and “What Remains of Edith Finch.”

The festival will kick off with the New York premiere of Telltale Games’ first-ever crowd play of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series” episode 1 and a concert headlined by British DJ, electronic-music producer and instrumentalist Mura Masa.

Tickets for the Tribeca Games Festival are $40 while tickets to the opening-night session are sold separately for $30 at tribecafilm.com/games. A limited number of tickets that include entry to Tribeca Immersive, the festival’s event for virtual reality and interactive installations, will be available for $70.

Tribeca has led the way on the film-festival circuit in embracing video games as a creative art form, and the launch of the Tribeca Games Festival solidifies that position. In 2011, it became the first film fest to host the premiere of a game title, Rockstar Games’ detective-based “L.A. Noire.”

“Five years ago, Tribeca was the first film festival to welcome gaming to the official program,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and executive chair of the Tribeca Film Festival. “Since then, we’ve continued to support the storytellers who have propelled it to become the world’s most popular and growing medium.”

Here’s a look at the current Tribeca Games Festival lineup:

KEYNOTE CONVERSATIONS

Hideo Kojima: Creator of the “Metal Gear” franchise on what’s next for him and the influences of film on his work.

Ken Levine: The director-writer of “BioShock” series reflects on his two decades in video games and the legacy his work has created for interactive storytelling.

Sam Lake: Creator of “Max Payne,” “Alan Wake” and “Quantum Break” on his unique approach to storytelling in games.

X POST CONVERSATIONS

“Cross-cultural” conversations pairing a gaming creator with artists and filmmakers.

Winslow Porter, Milica Zec and Tracy Fullerton: Virtual-reality directors Winslow Porter and Milica Zec and Fullerton, director of USC’s Game Innovation Lab, discuss how to create real-world environmental awareness in digital worlds.

Ian Dallas: Giant Sparrow creative director will discuss his upcoming game, “What Remains of Edith Finch,” which blends family drama with famous supernatural Japanese tales.

Robin Hunicke and Maureen Fan: Hunicke, founder of indie studio Funomena, and Fan, CEO of virtual-reality animation studio Baobab Studios, talk about how to create “delight and joy” in VR.

RETRO ACTIVE

A look at some of the top titles from 2016, breaking down each title from artto  design and from sound to storytelling.

Campo Santo’s “Firewatch”: The “Firewatch” team on their award-winning debut, focusing on the mystery game’s narrative design with writer and studio director Sean Vanaman.

Blizzard Entertainment’s “Overwatch”: Senior game designer and lead writer on “Overwatch” Michael Chu discusses how characters come into being in the top-selling PC game.

“The Stanley Parable”: Creator Davey Wreden on how he designs virtual spaces for his unique narratives and how that’s pushed him to explore the events of everyday life.

Stoic’s “The Banner Saga”: Stoic co-founder John Watson on how classic films like Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” inspired the Norse world of the “Banner Saga” series.

Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs 2”: Jonathan Morin, the game’s creative director, on how the team built a simulation in which everything is connected and tackled issues including surveillance, the Silicon Valley housing crisis, and diversity in tech.

SPECIAL CONVERSATION

“25th Anniversary of ‘The Lawnmower Man’ and The Past, Present & Future of VR”: Discussion about how “Lawnmower Man” influenced a generation of digital creators and to how capture images of the future with the tools of today with the film’s director, Brett Leonard; Jessica Brillhart, principal filmmaker for VR at Google; and Cy Wise from Owlchemy Labs, the Austin-based studio behind “Job Simulator.”

SNEAK PEEK AND THE ARCADE

A preview of new and unreleased work from independent game studios including Might & Delight, Finji Games and Giant Sparrow, and additional hands-on play with unreleased and recently released titles.

The Tribeca Games Festival program is subject to change. Find the most recent schedule at tribecafilm.com/games. The event is taking place during the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 19-30.

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