ATLAS Institute's Whaaat!? Festival has returned from the virtual wilderness and will be held in person on November 14 in the Roser ATLAS building. The fourth annual event will include an arcade and conference packed with phenomenal guest speakers, bizarre games and experimental interactions. And yeah, they’re gonna have cereal again, too!
Organized by Whaaat!? Lab for Games and Experimental Interactions' co-directors Matt Bethancourt and Danny Rankin, the dynamic duo created the festival in 2018, connecting ATLAS with the world of indie games and successfully seeding an enthusiastic community of offbeat game makers. Working around the restrictions of the pandemic last year, the Whaaat!? Festival morphed into a regular series of online events that ran throughout the academic year.
"The festival's goal is to feature creative and original games that break the rules, inspiring delight by forging new ways to live, interact and play," says Bethancourt, a teaching associate professor with ATLAS. Putting it more succinctly, "We want to make people say 'Whaaat!?'" he says.
Two Ways to Whaaat!?: Arcade and Conference
Free and open to all, the Whaaat!? Arcade will feature specially curated tabletop and digital games for participants to play until their fingers go numb and their brains feel inspired. The arcade will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 14, and conference organizers note, "it will be a 100 percent delight!"
Sponsored by the ATLAS Institute and the CU Boulder Engineering Excellence Fund, the Whaaat!? Conference is limited to 175 tickets at $30 and features talks, workshops, panels, lunch and a ton of fun surprises. Students may apply for scholarships to offset the cost of attending. This year conference organizers are thrilled to welcome Nicole He and Nathalie Lawhead as the event's two keynote speakers.
"There's a whole carnival's-worth of game-related weirdness in store," says Rankin, a teaching assistant professor. "We'll be making additional announcements as we get closer to the date. In the meantime, grab those tickets, contact us with any questions, and we’ll see you in November!"