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Mace & Crown | March 19, 2018

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PixelFest Attracts Vendors, Hosts Game Jam

Daija Marrow | Contributing Writer

PixelFest, the rapidly growing, local video game convention held at Slover Library in Downtown Norfolk this weekend featured a family-friendly atmosphere welcoming guests to multiple floors of interactive workshops and games. It not only provided locals with fun activities to engage in over the weekend but was an opportunity for small businesses to show off their wares, as well as an event for local game developers to test their game design skills.

For the first time, PixelFest invited vendors to sell merchandise on the library floors. As the word of PixelFest’s success last year spread through social media, the now annual event saw others invited in an attempt to boost the festival’s popularity. There were companies ranging from locations as far as Durham, North Carolina to the neighboring city of Virginia Beach. If you were unable to attend, here are some of the businesses that displayed their merchandise to the excited visitors and gamers at PixelFest.

A number of companies native to Richmond attended, one going by the name of Sweet-Fusion Bath Products. They specialized in delicious-looking bath bombs and keychains resembling treats such as cupcakes and brownies. Although they appear delicious, they are not edible. After practicing her craft for 14 years, Sarah, the artist, created her business two years ago. She learned about PixelFest a month ago and decided to set up shop. Her “confectionary toiletries” can make great gifts for others or yourself.

From North Carolina, development company Solanimus, who participated in PixelFest last year, reemerged with great anticipation.

“It was a good experience last year, great for exposure,” David, the founder of Solanimus said. “We just had to come back.”

David and Daniel completed a rhythm video game called “Signal to Noise.” The pace of the game follows the tempo of a chosen song, some of which come with the game or can be uploaded by the player. “Signal to Noise” is currently available on Steam for $4.99 and the developers welcome all to check it out. The idea originated during a game jam that occurred during the inaugural PixelFest convention last year.

A game jam is when developers sit down for a period of time, three days being the usual cap, and create a game from the ground up. A fully playable demo, hopefully, should be the result at the end of time limit. Game jams can breed successful ideas out of the time pressure emulating the pressure of professional game development, which PixelFest hosted again this year.

There was a competitive aspect to this game jam, allowing developers to create teams and compete for a cash prize. Given access to a room on the sixth floor of Slover Library Wednesday afternoon, teams began hatching plans and diving into lines of code. On Saturday, they displayed and pitched their game to judges, competitors and curious onlookers during the Dev Con, a portion of PixelFest that hosted professionals and guest speakers. Whether or not they won the competition, they left with a solid game idea, new connections and perhaps new friends following the experience.

PixelFest is a gaming-centric event that brings fun and opportunities to the city of Norfolk. But the festivities aren’t limited to video games. It’s growth the past year has now given small businesses the chance to gain exposure and connect with their community. Acquaintances are made through a common interest and laughs are shared over friendly competitions.

If you didn’t get to attend this year, there is always next year! Take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the culture of Norfolk and support local businesses in the process.