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Comics vs Games gallery returns to Toronto Comic Arts Festival with VR games, 3D art

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) will feature the return of Comics vs Games with a 3D art gallery, talks, a virtual reality arcade for indie games and more, Attract Mode's Matt Hawkins announced via the organization's website.

TCAF is an annual celebration of comics and graphic novels held in Toronto, Canada. Comics vs Games 3, a component of the event, allows attendees to experience a mix of video games and comics. The Comics vs Games 3D Gallery — an art show that features anaglyph glasses for attendees— includes video game-inspired visuals from comic and animation artists.

Speaking with Polygon via email, Hawkins explained that the artists involved are allowed to choose whatever game inspiration they wish. However, he does attempt to enlist arists who "do not consider themselves 'gamers' per se."

"A lot of times you'll encounter someone who may state, 'I'm not really a video game person...' and that's so not true," Hawkins said. "At this point, we are all video game people ... And I often found this so-called outsider's perspective on the subject matter to be the most compelling."

The 3D gallery does feature some prolific artists, Hawkins added, pointing to Skullgirls lead animator Mariel Cartwright and 2 Player Productions co-founder Asif Siddiky. Other contributing artists include Ashley Davis, Babs Tarr, Jesse Tise, Kelly Smith, Mikko Walamies and Steve Courtney, whose work can be previewed in the gallery above.

The gallery will also have a "VRcade," a chance to play three Oculus Rift games from collaborations of comic creators and game makers: Libraria, an adventure game from Kyle Dwyer and Adam Hines; Daniele Hopkins and Gillian Blekkenhorst's Altar; and "an immersive magical girl transformation battle" from Christine Love and Jenn Woodall. Further details about each game are available on the TCAF's website. According to Hawkins, the focus on 3D and Oculus Rift technology at this year's event "simply falls in line" with its growing tradition.

"That's pairing a cartoonist and a game designer together, to basically see what happens," Hawkins said. "It's not so much the case anymore, but comic makers and game makers are perpetually fascinated and perplexed by each other, and I view stuff like Comics vs Games as an ice breaker of sorts, to get conversations going."

TCAF attendees can also buy limited-edition items at the Bit Bazaar: Spring Fair 2014 — a gathering of 30 indie devs and studios celebrating the art and craft of indie games — and talks. A full schedule has not been announced, though the early lineup includes presentations from Gone Home's Kate Craig, The Last of Us: American Dreams co-creator Faith Erin Hicks and a postmortem on The Yawhg by Emily Carroll and Damian Sommer.

Hawkins calls this year's lineup of talks the event's most improved component.

"Last year we had only one panel, and this time there's a whole day's worth," Hawkins said. "Again, there is a ton of overlap between the world of indie comics and indie games that folks on both side are either not aware of or do, but take them for granted. And I'm talking about behind the scenes stuff; creative challenges, reaching out to readers/players, and even economical issues."

The Comics vs Games 3D Gallery begins May 8 at 7 p.m., while TCAF takes place from May 10-11. The Bit Bazaar will be open May 10, the same day Comics vs Games talks take place.

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