Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

‘Digital Fringe’ goes live for one night — come meet pioneering game-dev types in the flesh

Digital Fringe, an online mini-Fringe Festival, hosts a one-night Digital Art Showcase where you can meet game developers and other digital artists in the flesh.

Detail from a scene in Daniel Shumway's time-travel interactive game, "Reset Hard."
Detail from a scene in Daniel Shumway's time-travel interactive game, "Reset Hard."Read moreDaniel Shumway

Going to the Fringe this week? If so, why not drop in to the Digital Art Showcase?

It's on Wednesday night starting at 6 p.m., in the student lounge of Harrisburg University's Philadelphia campus at 16th Street and Spring Garden Streets, across from the Community College of Philadelphia. And it's free.

You'll walk into a room full of computer stations, welcoming you to step into the virtual world of Digital Fringe.

Digital Fringe is the part of Philadelphia Fringe 2018 that  — except on this one night — lives online only, at It's available 24/7, with games, podcasts, theatrical performances, visual arts, and mashups of these and other genres.

Digital artists in the flesh

The artists from Digital Fringe are looking forward to seeing you. A lot.

"As cool as the computer is," says Fringe Festival coordinator Jarrod Markman, "these digital artists don't often get the chance to see people in the flesh interacting with their art. So super-excited is the word."

"This is our fourth year, and it's the largest it's ever been," says Markman, who with marketing manager Raine Searles has grown the platform. "We have 25 installations compared with 16 to 17 last year."

The big move this year was to partner with Philly Game Mechanics, an organization that supports game development and indie game enthusiasts.

"The game-dev scene in Philly is very indie," says Jake O'Brien of Philly Game Mechanics. "We decided to have a two-week game jam, with the theme of 'making digital art,' and several of the pieces at Digital Fringe came out of that."

One of his contributions, @hereafter, is an "escape-the-room game" played in a chat room with "other digital souls seeking to discover secrets and find their way to a higher #channel." Some other Digital Fringe offerings:

  1. In Chez Vous, you can have two people, Jeremy Cohen and Shreshth Khilani, come cook … in your kitchen! A "modest production team comes along," and the event gets live-streamed.

  2. R&J, a multiday game, is based on Romeo and Juliet.

  3. How to Dance by Sean Thomas Boyt, is billed as a "collection of convenient dances."

  4. The Phillytron, an arcade cabinet containing eight games made by Philly locals, appears after a stint at the Franklin Institute Game Masters exhibit.

“Guitar Hero” scenario, for dance

Visualizationist by Michael Stauffer, another Digital Fringe presentation, has two parts.

In one, called Sculptor, you create lovely, expressive light shapes by dancing to music. In the other, Groovecatcher, you or someone else can "catch the music," following the light trail you originally blazed and replicating it. (You see the shapes and pathways, and dance to match them). In other words, Player Two dances as Player One danced — not unlike in Guitar Hero.

"As a musician, I've wanted to create a dance platform that gets more into the expressive insides of music," says Stauffer. "The idea is to give people a new way to take part in moving to music."

Game show in development

Daniel Shumway's Reset Hard, another Digital Fringe presentation, is a game show in development. At Fringe, it will be set up for one person, but someday it will support multiple players, each of whom can, in Shumway's words, "use time travel as a strategic tool."

"Imagine we were playing each other and I shot you," he says. "You could go back in time, empty my gun, and when that point comes up again, the gun wouldn't work." Some elements let you peek into the past and future so you can figure out what to do.

“August in the City”

My favorite Digital Fringe endeavor might be August in the City, a collaboration between Iron Age Theatre and the August Wilson Consortium, a Philly group dedicated to Wilson's plays and getting them done a lot in Philly.

Richard Bradford, the series' producer and photographer, says, "We've taken one monologue from each of his Century plays [Wilson wrote one play for each decade of the 20th century] and filmed a Philly actor performing it in a setting like the one in the play." For a Two Trains Running monologue, for instance, the setting is 30th Street Station.

The 10 monologues are being rolled out as Philly Fringe progresses. "You can point your smartphone at a plaque and get a QR code that gets you into the latest one," says John Doyle, artistic director at Iron Age. "We'll either hang these plaques at different locations in town or distribute them around Fringe.

"All 10 pieces eventually will be online, and we'll let that page go live the last week of Fringe."