Be warned, dear reader. I’ve just been given space to ramble about my favourite time of year. A Maze Berlin, an international celebration of wonderful indie games and the people who make them, stood on shaky ground this year after failing to acquire support from German funding bodies. Fortunately, A Maze isn’t quite dead yet. A last-ditch effort to crowdfund a 2020 show passed its €50,000 (£43k) goal this weekend, securing the show’s existence for the time being.
That’ll be me off for another week of indie indulgence fuelled by dangerous high-caffeine german hacker cola, then. My poor heart.
Each year during Berlin Games Week, A Maze fills a warehouse/garage/derelict sports complex with a handful of lovely independent games. They’re the sort of personal, bizarre and playful things we love here at RPS, regularly featured in columns like Sin’s Unknown Pleasures, Kat’s Priceless Play, or even my own news coverage. Regular contributor Giada Zavarise even popped over to Berlin back in April and shared her top picks from this year’s lineup.
A Maze Berlin has also become a yearly ritual since I started going as a broke student three years ago. In that time, I’ve played a deconstructed build of Thumper so hard my thumbs bled. I’ve helped Robert Yang crowdsource the lighting of a New York gay bar in Unity. I’ve spent quiet mornings making zines and making friends. That same evening, I’d lose myself to non-stop covers of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” in a car park fever-dream – a movement that led to our own Nate Crowley running a Boys-themed LARP at quiet Yorkshire games festival Feral Vector.
Like Feral Vector, though, A Maze turned to crowdfunding to keep afloat this year. Despite running for eight years, A Maze’s attempts to get funding from the German Senate’s Department Of Culture were rejected, leading them to kick off the #AMAZENOTDEAD campaign this past month.
Successfully crowdfunding next year’s show has guaranteed that A Maze Berlin will run from April 22nd-25th, though a venue has yet to be confirmed. With just under 2 days left in their Kickstarter campaign, they want to use any additional funds to help bring the event to Kenyan capital Nairobi.
[Disclosure: I’ve spoken at a few A Maze Hypertalk events, both at the Berlin show and during a work trip to Ludicious Festival in Zurich this year. I also sometimes make games, and briefly exhibited a game at this year’s show (that’s it in the header) while soundly losing an A Maze award in 2018 for a student game wot I made.]