The Game is On at Ludicious Game Festival in Zurich


By Susan Platt
Ah Switzerland. Home of chocolate, cheese, cows, clocks, banks, comic cons and gaming festivals.
Wait. What?
Yup, you read correctly.
While the small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe is indeed predominantly famous for its calorie loaded delights, breathtaking scenery and bovine beauty queens (ok, maybe not really for the latter) has stealthily grown into a Mecca for major international tech and software companies over the last few years. And where there’s a techie crowd – the nerds are not far behind.
In fact, such a big part of its population has quietly swapped hay forks for keyboards – gamer and maker fairs, fantasy and comic cons have sprung up left and right.
And though its landmass be little, the Swiss convention game is fierce!
Because if there’s one thing that the Swiss take pride in, it’s quality. So, when it comes to gaming festivals in Switzerland, it’s on like Donkey Kong!
As an avid gamer since that fateful day the flickering Sierra logo on my giant tube monitor of my first love, aka a Commodore C64, announced a Quest for the Crown, I am uber chuffed that these types of events are finally starting to happen on my own turf.
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Luckily, I seem to have passed on the gamer genes to my offspring, so when the third instalment of the Ludicious Game Festival in Zurich, an annual three-day conference catering to both game designers and players alike took place this past weekend, my small nerd herd of three moseyed into the city to check it out.
Although the exhibition area in an old military barrack was not overly large, the host’s managed to pack a good three dozen gaming stations into the main space. Game developers and designers from all corners of the worlds were chatting with each other as well as the players, who were eager to test the latest and greatest releases.
As a welcome surprise, I noticed that a good chunk of the audience and designers, consisted of young women. Looks like the Rise of the Gamer Girls is finally upon us and we are no longer an exotic curiosity at these types of events. Huzzah!
Having the kid with us, the focus on our evening’s game testing clearly was set on getting her 11-year-old mind onto something that would nurture her curiosity.
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Enter Leon! a multi-lingual story building and word swapping game designed for tablets and smart phones from French developers Witty Wings that ran in Ludicious’ international competition.
From the get-go, you can tell how much love and care has gone into every detail. The innovative game boasts sweet, humorous graphics, that often surprise with unexpected visuals as the words are being swapped. The developers also took great care to adapt the colloquialisms in each of the different language versions of the game (of which there are 5: English German, Spanish, French and Italian).
To be able to guide Leon safely through his night time adventure, kids are required to solve clever riddles and puzzles. But not to worry, if you are not happy with the ending you get, you can always backtrack and change the course of action and your story’s outcome.
No matter how many other games we tested that night, the kid kept gravitating back to Leon’s station until, by the end of the night, we’d bought and downloaded the game from iTunes.
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And after having played through the chapters with her since, I must admit that I have grown more than a little fond of this game, myself.
And yeah ok, I may or may not have played it, when she wasn’t looking. But that’s going to be our little secret, right?

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