Sao Paulo played host to the inaugural Brazil International Game Festival, a first-of-its-kind event in South America. I was fortunate enough to be on the jury, and participate in this critical event. While most in the Western development scene are accustomed to celebrating games and providing opportunities for indies to connect, share, and do business, the Brazilian community jumped at their own chance to do the same.

The Festival took in approx 250 applications, from which 20 finalists were selected across a handful of categories. On a personal level, it was nice to be “forced” to play all the finalists on-site and have face-to-face jury deliberations to select the award recipients. There were some real gems in there, especially the overall best game, Unmechanical, from Talawa Games in Sweden.

There was a great vibe at the event and overall sense of community, as developers, publishers, and related industry folk, mingled and shared. And, there was plenty of opportunity to take in Brazilian culture (though we focused more on the food and nightlife, than museums or landmarks ;)

There is graffiti absolutely everywhere in Sao Paulo, and most of it quite nice/creative!

View from hotel room. The city is indescribably dense and sprawling.

Iain Simons (GameCity) has a hard time selecting beer at the specialty pub.

Hehehe, when I first walked into the restaurant, I actually thought that was melted cheese. Oh well.

Chris Avellone (Obsidian) approves his first caipirinha.

Amazing skyline view from the Skye Bar atop the Unique Hotel.

The rather unique boat-like shape of the Unique Hotel.

Somewhat threatening sign of the Z Carniceria bar (which fittingly was previously a butcher shop).

The even more threatening “cheese” on fries. It was Jim’s choice!

The Secretary of State of Culture, Marcelo Mattos Araujo, opens the Festival.

Chris Avellone (Obsidian) discusses the changing landscape of game publishing.

International publishers give quick “reverse” pitches (ie, “here’s what we’re looking for, and how we do business”). First up, Levi Buchanan (Chillingo). Waiting in the wings: Jim Ying and Amanda Cinfio (Gree), Careen Yapp (Konami), Fred Wester (Paradox).

Tech/platform companies provide overviews. First up, Henrique Schlatter Manfroi (Nokia). Next up: Daniel Trocoli (ClickJogos), Jay Santos (Unity).

No clue what they were joking about, but Careen Yapp (Konami) and Fred Wester (Paradox) didn’t stop laughing for like 30 minutes!

Band “circle” playing beautiful music at the samba club.

The B2B match-making room in full swing.

Part of the BIG exposition area at the Museum for Image & Sound.

Tali Goldstein (Minority Media) getting mobbed after her Papo&Yo post-mortem lecture.

The BIG crew opening the awards ceremony (from right to left): Gustavo Steinberg, Ale Machado, Melina Manasseh, Eliana Russy.

The award winners. Congrats!

Crazy good steak at Sujinho at the post-awards dinner. (Photo credit: Levi Buchanan)

At the Choperia karaoke bar for post-awards celebration. (Photo credit: Iain Simons)

Mmmm, dim sum at Ping Pong. Such good Asian food in Sao Paulo :)

All the way across town in Morumbi for a family BBQ in honor of Tali. Three of us who had not yet left, were generously invited.


Now THAT is churrasco (aka BBQ). Sooooooo good. Easily the best meal all week.

Myself with Bruno (Tali’s brother), Florian Grolig (Black Pants), Tali Goldstein (Minority Media), and Robin Meijer (Ronimo Games) enjoy the family BBQ.