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Prepare to be A MAZE.d at indie, alt game expo in JHB

A MAZE. Johannesburg, an offshoot of the original A MAZE. festival in Berlin, is now in its sixth year and going from strength to strength. It’s partnered with the Fak’ugesi festival and features a host of game makers, digital artists, musicians, researchers and coders, all engaged with the subject of play — the driving force behind the festival.

Since its inception in Berlin, A MAZE. now interacts with creative events in a number of festivals all over the world, including Croatia, Romania, Palestine, Cuba, Kosovo, Ukraine, Russia and of course South Africa.

A MAZE. Berlin takes place in April and A MAZE. Johannesburg in September, both of them annually. Still not really sure what it’s all about? This excerpt from the A MAZE. Johannesburg website might help…

“A MAZE. is a Berlin based international label in the field of independent and alternative games, playful media and games culture. Interdisciplinary, game-centred events and productions transcending media channels and cultures are the signature feature of A MAZE. [Their] portfolio includes the production of festivals, exhibitions, conferences, workshops, game showcases, game jams, artist in residence programmes and a magazine.”

In recent years A MAZE. has really become the start of the gaming expo season. The mid-September kick off of all things indie is the build up to the highlight of everyone’s gaming calendar — rAge, which takes place this year from the 6-8 October.

As always, A MAZE. Johannesburg plays host to not only a great lineup of local and international speakers, but artists and game developers showcasing the talent that South Africa has on offer. This year of course is no different. The festival runs for three days — from 13-16 September at 41 Juta Street, Braamfontein, in the heart of Johannesburg’s Tshimologong Precinct, close to Wits University.

What to see and do?

Expect to hear speakers such as IGF Nominee Nina Freeman, as well as local game devs and academics the likes of Ben Rausch, Evan Greenwood, Ruan Rothmann and Tim Flusk. If you’re an academic gaming nerd like me you’ll be excited about international speakers like Marie Flanagan.

Of course if you get restless listening to other people talk, you don’t just have to sit and listen. The strength of A MAZE is undoubtedly the workshops, where you can participate and learn
new skills. The workshops take place at the Digital Innovation Zone, at 111 Smit Street, not far from the main festival and teach everything from Unity skills, to VR and experimentation with anything from narrative to game music.

Lastly, don’t forget about the parties! The A MAZE. Jump & Run Party & A MAZE. /Johannesburg Award show takes place on the final night as part of the Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party. Featuring local DJs as well as A MAZE. founder Thorsten Wiedermann as DJ Storno, you can let your hair down and close off the festival with a party to remember.

If you’re in Joburg, make sure you make your way to A MAZE. at some point over the next few days. If you’re a veteran I’m sure you already have your ticket. If you’re a newbie, then definitely make time for this – you won’t regret it!

To find out more about A MAZE Johannesburg go to http://www.amaze-johannesburg.co.za/

Featured image: Supplied

Author Bio

Pippa Tshabalala: Columnist
Pippa Tshabalala is the former presenter of The Verge -- South Africa's first locally produced TV show on videogames. She has a passion for all things gaming and tech related as well as a growing collection of tattoos. Based in Johannesburg, she is currently the On-Air Producer for Comedy... More