Adriaan De Jongh returns to the podcast to discuss the final chapter of Game Oven and where he is going next. Game Oven in its short four year life captured our attention for its innovative and provocative take on games and how we interact with them socially. Whether you enjoyed dancing in Bouden, rubbing fingers in Fingle, or enjoying a conversation in Friendstrap the games Adriaan worked on with Bojan Endrovski and Eline Muijres were all remarkable.
It’s been some time since last had Adriaan De Jongh and the entire Game Oven studio on the podcast discussing Bounden. In that time Bouden has gone on to win multiple awards and was nominated for the 2015 IGF Nuovo award, which according to some circles Nuovo is the real testament to the innovative spirit found only in indie games. I love Bouden, it is one of the few games remaining on my phone, at the ready waiting for anyone who wants to play. Back in January Game Oven announced that they will be closing down in April. It was a bittersweet moment for me, as a fan I was sad knowing that there will be no new games under the banner. But as someone who has had the pleasure of meeting and talking to all of them, I know there is still great potential no matter where they go.
Adriaan participated in Train Jam with me. His game, made in collaboration with Rami Ismail, was called Mark Ellis: Train Bridge Inspector. It’s a quaint little prediction game with procedural generated train bridges. In between making predictions on whether the train will make it across the and during the jam we chatted briefly about the closing and about what would be next for him. It wasn’t until the following week at GDC that we finally had a chance to sit down and discuss his work and where he is going.
A key ingredient in the games Adriaan likes to make, is about pushing individuals outside of their comfort zones, socially speaking, and show them that you can be silly and goofy even as an adult. His games are meant to be fun. I often find myself criticizing games in singular pursuit of fun, but with Adriaan’s work three is a level of sincerity and generosity found in his work that makes having fun, more appreciated than ever before. This may be in part for his own reverence to folk games and his desire to keep alight the flame of folk games in an ever increasing isolating and digital world. It’s no surprise that most of his ‘video’ games find means to introduce real physicality to them, to make you very aware you are playing with another living, breathing person and all the magic that can contain. And to be clear this isn’t just a nostalgia grab to the games we played as children, its about reminding us, even as adults, the importance of ‘play.’
Be sure to check out all of Game Oven’s games, they are all fantastic. Be sure to keep on the look out for Adriaan’s future work as I have a feeling this won’t be the last time he comes on the show to talk about something special he is working on.