Jun 082024

When I describe what I do in co-organizing Toronto Games Week, people often say that it sounds stressful and like a lot of work — as opposed to writing or creating stuff, which people think sounds like fun. But they’re both fun in certain ways, stressful in others. 

When my organizing schemes are going well, I wonder to myself: why doesn’t everyone want to do this? It’s so fun! I’ve always felt my creative side and my organizer side were complimentary, but now I’m almost wondering if I may have become an artist so I could be a better arts community organizer.

More on that subject later — but Toronto Games Week starts Thursday, so here are my top picks for you rated with difficulty levels…

Easy mode. Games X Movies, at a lovely licenced rep theatre!

FRI JUNE 14, 6:45-11PM
Moon and Double Dragon Screenings
A free screening of working class sci-fi flick Moon paired with a presentation by Trey Smith, creative director of working class sci-fi game Hardspace: Shipbreaker (free tickets here)! Then the legendary Blackbelt Cinema presents 1994’s Double Dragon ($ tickets here, event trailer here). Sponsored by Continue. (Facebook event)
Revue Cinema
400 Roncesvalles Ave.

Medium challenge. Explore a rambling historic building filled to the brim with game-related amusements. 

Toronto Games Week Closing Celebration
The final event of the week features a select videogame showcase from Toronto Game Jam, performances by Hypergame Storytime and the Suspicious EXE Files, and a ’90s video dance party presented by Mighty Yell! Visit the tiny but mighty microMix arcade, a collection of 30-second microgames concocted by Sheridan students and hosted on the Hand Eye Society 2UP Bartop Torontrons. Navigate the digitally-corrupted landscapes of (Jazzpunk co-creator) Luis Hernandez’s Electro-Vivisection, where classic games have been modified beyond recognition. Bring your game on USB and Render File will improvise music as people play it! Plus, a zine launch by Paradise! Tickets here. (Facebook event)
St. Anne’s Parish Hall
651 Dufferin St.

Hard challenge. If you like videogames, exploring the woods at night, and frolicking amongst guerrilla art, you may be up for this epic adventure.

Night Parkcade: Forest Frolick
The sequel to last year’s pop up arcade after dark in Trinity Bellwoods, in a new secret location! Featuring a shirt that you can play Frogger on and leafcore videogames like Klei’s Rotwood and A Short Hike presented by the creator Adam Robinson-Yu (who ~might~ have something new?). But in a city blessed with many glorious ravines, where could it be? Only TGW newsletter subscribers will get the treasure map the day before the event! (Facebook event)

Bonus Level for people with kids! A perfect Father’s Day outing!

The Dream Game Museum
Get inspired by playing one-of-a-kind games, draw your own game cover and concept, then watch as Hypergame Storytime improvises a theme song right in front of your eyes and ears! An all-ages kid-friendly event in the back room of the last weird video rental store in the city. Free. (Facebook event)
Eyesore Cinema
1176 Bloor St W.

Full Toronto Games Week schedule here!

Some further thoughts on the interplay between organizing and creating:

If I love a piece of art, I’m curious about the person who made it and often excited to try my hand at working in the medium. Then I like to share my work with the people whose work inspired me. If we consequently become friends, it’s natural to collaborate with them. And often it doesn’t make sense to collaborate when you have the same writer role, for instance — so instead, I start something like a writer’s group, where we can support and grow alongside each other.

I think often people view arts organizing as serving artists, but because I create work in mediums that I organize in, it feels to me like I’m helping my peers. So I get both a feeling of usefulness and a feeling of connection.

If art is more about feeling seen, and organizing is more about feeling connected, I think the latter is more significant to me just because of my personal emotional history. So while many people see community organizing as a way to advance their art career — and it has that benefit, absolutely — to me it’s the main course. And in some ways it’s easier to get attention and support for organizing — it’s less glamorous than art making and so it’s much less crowded than any creative space.

So as I’ve bounced from medium to medium, I have discovered a recipe that seems to work:

1. Make a thing. 
2. Wish there was a community resource that could have made making that thing easier. 
3. Find the other people in that medium who feel the same.
4. Make it happen with them.
5. Repeat.

When I was in publishing, I started the Perpetual Motion Roadshow touring circuit that sent 100 indie creators on the road. In film, I started a DVD zine and we established an egalitarian profit sharing model for the multi-director feature film I wrote. In games, I co-founded the world’s first videogame arts organization (the Hand Eye Society) and now help run Toronto Games Week. Making these projects, structures, & institutions is absolutely a kind of creative act — building something new and useful that helps artists, and giving it a name and and aesthetic that inspires them.

Convinced? If you’re inclined to want to organize an event in the games space, we’ll be looking for new organizers to support next year — subscribe to the newsletter to find out how to join us!

TGW Poster: Nicholas Di Genova
Moon Poster: Brandon Lim
Photo: Kyle Chisholm

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