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IGF Factor 2010: Today I Die

We’ve talked about Daniel Benmergui’s poetic work before, when Alec wrote about I Wish I Were The Moon and – relevantly – when John Wrote about this. It’s poetic, short-form work which has been shortlisted for the Nuovo award in this year’s festival. You can play it here, watch the spoiler-filled-video walkthrough below and then read what’s on Daniel’s mind in our interview.

RPS: Firstly, a brief intro to those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?

Daniel Benmergui: I am an Argentinian indie game developer, studied computer science, worked at Gameloft as studio programmer lead, and right now I am trying to figure what’s the best way to live my life.

There are two good reasons to make games: you want to make a game, or you want to “make games”. The distinction is important, because large studios can only fulfill the latter. Indie is the only way if you believe the games themselves are important. I used to work on a large studio, now I choose the indie way.

RPS: And… the game. Tell us about it. What was its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What nags?

Daniel Benmergui: It originated on a clash of three elements: a visual impression of a girl sinking into stale water and then struggling her way back up, the poem changing mechanic I worked on before but didn’t know what to do with, and a spouse going through a depression.

I was only trying to make a game that felt important for me.

I am very pleased that a lot of people found the game important to them.

I wish I made a better game.

RPS: What’s your feelings on the IGF this year. Pleased to be nominated? Have particular love, bemusement or hate for any of the other entries? Is there anything you think is missing?

Daniel Benmergui: I am happy to be nominated, but perhaps for the wrong reason. I promised myself I would be an IGF finalist six years ago, during my first GDC. So I am happy I fulfilled that promise.

But I actually wish it happened last year, or perhaps the next. Last year I had a conflicted relationship with game development (my next project didn’t show up then), so I am still feeling a bit distant.

There’s a bunch of entries I love, others I would love to try. I will, during GDC. There’s VVVVVV missing, of course.

RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene generally this year? People have been relatively downbeat about 2009, after 2008 being so obviously incendiary. What are the themes, in your eyes? What are people missing?

Daniel Benmergui: There’s a lot of indies doing very important work… I don’t believe the distinction of years matter at all, as long as there’s people doing bold stuff.

RPS: And how does the future look for you? What are you working on now and the foreseeable future.

Daniel Benmergui: I am working on Today I Die Again, a revised version of Today I Die that will be released for the iPhone, which will hopefully be a great improvement!

RPS: Thanks for your time.

You can go and play Today I Die right now.

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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