SAAM Arcade

The SAAM Arcade (formerly Indie Arcade: Coast to Coast) is an annual event hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its partners. 

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s third annual “SAAM Arcade” highlights the groundbreaking work of video game developers, provides educational tools and fosters creativity for the future of video games.

A central component of the event is the “Indie Showcase” that featured 40 independent games created by both student and professional developers. The 2017 event took place on August 5th and 6th, 2017 and attracted 19,880 attendees over two days.

The featured independent games were selected by a panel of independent game makers and industry veterans, who were brought together by American University’s Game Lab and the International Game Developers Association’s Baltimore and Washington, D.C., chapters. Developers from all over the world, including South Africa, Australia, China and Poland, submitted more than 150 games.


The event is supported by:

Smithsonian American Art Museum
The American University Game Lab
The International Game Developer's Association DC Chapter (IGDA)
Entertainment Software Association (ESA)
Art Lab+

Information about the previous events is located here:
2016 Indies Coast to Coast
2014 Indies in the Middle



Indie Arcade Logo

The event is organized in partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum with support from American University Game Lab and Magfest.

The event was organized by Chris Totten, Lindsay Grace and Kaylin Lapan.

Judge Panel:

Jerry Belich (Miami University, College of Creative Arts )

Callen Shaw (Omega Games)

Jo Summers (Profaniti LTD, Global Game Jam)

Olli Tapio Leino (City University of Hong Kong, School of Creative Media)

Farhad Javidi (Central Piedmont Community College)

James Portnow (Divide by Zero, Rainmaker Games)

Joshua Jennings (Hookbang)

2017 Selected Works

The following works were on display for the 2017 SAAM Arcade

A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher is a Split-Screen Single Player Twin Stick Risk 'Em Up where your score is meaningless unless you exist. Playing till death is not an option. You must decide when to leave with your score. Every new run will wipe your previous leaderboard position which you must then replace with your new score. If you die not only did you lose your rank you also lost all progress towards a new one. Don't lose sight of your mission. Trackher.

Save the world one wire at a time with Bomb Squad Academy, a puzzle game where you have to defuse bombs under a time constraint. Analyze the way the electronic boards function and identify how to disable the detonator. Be careful though, cutting the wrong wire or flipping the wrong switch might just trigger the bomb.

BRKTS: Lets say you have 4 players and an extra person to be the moderator. Now you have two decks of cards. The first deck is a set of twenty-five dark grey category cards. The categories are things such as, comic book heroes, aliens, children's book characters, famous duos, and reality tv stars. The moderator will pull a category card and we'll say it's, sidekicks. So the four people playing will each pick two sidekicks since it's an eight spot bracket. They can be pulled from TV shows, movies, books, comics, cartoons, video games, from where ever they can think of. The moderator fills out the bracket with everyone's choices then moves on to the set of seventy-five light grey scenario cards. These will tell you what the challenges are for the characters on the bracket. Each new match up gets a new scenario. So we'll say the first match up is Robin versus Ron Weasley and the scenario is a game of chess. Now the two players that picked those characters have to debate why their character would beat the other player's character in a game of chess. The players take turns laying out their case by being as creative as possible, highlighting their characters strong points, or their opponents lack thereof, when it comes to that scenario, or using their phone to look up info that proves their character has done this scenario before or something like it. And if the other players playing have info to share on the subject they can jump in add their two cent. The moderator also plays a part here by making sure the debate doesn't carry on for too long. To move your character on in the bracket your opponent either has to give up, or you have to win a table vote if neither party is willing to admit defeat. The other players will vote based on the arguments heard. This process continues until one person's character makes it to the end of the bracket.

Burly Men at Sea is a folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure. Set in the waters of early 20th-century Scandinavia, the game's story branches through a series of encounters with creatures from folklore. You play as storyteller and wayfinder, shaping the narrative around three ungainly heroes as they set sail for the unknown.

The CANARI Corporation uses robots piloted by humans to mine asteroids and planets that are not safe for human exploration. These robots are the new "canary in the coal mine". One of these robot's named LUMIN crashed his ship on a particularly hostile planet. Your job is to reunite LUMIN with his ship while avoiding the dangers that lurk in the dark. Players need to mine energy crystals to keep respawning or trade-in energy to purchase useful equipment to make your LUMIN strong. CANARI challenges players sense of direction and dexterity as each level is a maze and each death generates a new exit.

Circle Soiree is a tablet-based party game for 3-10 people.To play, each player must place one finger in a circle and never leave or let go of the circle. Once the circles start to move and animate, the players must work as a team. They all have to keep their fingers in the circles as long as possible, this means they have to climb over and under each other, as well as keep moving all the way around the tablet. Sidestep extinction as a dinosaur in this arcade dodge-'em-up. A new video entertainment program featuring cutting-edge Brontoscan vector graphics. Five game modes, including two local player, adventure, and score attack. ©1979

Epitaph is a tactical fighting game that combines the thoughtful strategy of games like Fire Emblem with the speed and excitement of games like Street Fighter. Each player commands a team of three Reapers, the many faces of death, to steal souls away from your enemies and conquer the afterlife. A unique real-time, cooldown-based combat system challenges players to form combos between their combatants, setting up brutal moves and countering the plans of their opponent. But be careful - every time a character dies, they come back stronger, so moving closer to victory will also make your opposition even more formidable.

Epitasis is an exploration puzzle based game. Quickly thrown from your normal life into these distant and far off worlds, you must solve ancient and cryptic puzzles and search for treasured relics in hopes of learning what happened to the ancient civilization that once called this place home. If all goes well, you may just have a chance to get back to your own.

EXPOSURE is a game of intense hiding. Morph between light & dark forms to camouflage in an evolving environment. But be careful: once you do, you won’t be able to see yourself either. Adapt to see without looking.

Fallen Legion brings an intense RPG experience, where every battle is a heart-pounding fight and each gut-wrenching choice changes the world, to PS4 and Vita. Fallen Legion’s furious battle system has players control up to four characters simultaneously in real-time combat. Between crushing enemy armies you make decisions that determine the fate of Fenumia. Sending troops to defend a village from a barbarian onslaught may give you an attack boost, but choosing to snub their request could grant you double HP for an entire level. Think fast because your choices permanently impact the world and you only have 10 seconds to decide!

Fugl is a zen game where you play as shapeshifting bird, exploring lush procedurally generated voxel worlds and its animals.

Lunaform is a puzzle arcade game like breakout, but instead of destroying all of the blocks your trying to fill them up. Swap the hexes just in time to catch stars of the same color, and fill up the grid to complete the level. Sounds easy at first, but later on increasingly complex star patterns emerge, and the hex grid gets larger as you work on harder planets. Your goal is to finish constructing the solar system by building each planet, accomplished by beating each level.

The world of Mystic Melee brings you a spectacular mix of physics-based platforming and imaginative spells. You'll need to master both, playing as four arcane wizards facing the monsters and minions of an evil mage who threatens the universe."

Perception is a first-person narrative horror adventure that tells the story of Cassie, a blind heroine who uses her extraordinary hearing and razor-sharp wits to unravel the mysteries of an abandoned estate that haunts her dreams.

Pixel Noir: Something happened that night in the hospital - something that cost you your career as a police detective, your sanity and your partner's life. Ten years later, you have the chance to put things right. Are the hallucinations that plague you a key to what happened that fateful night? Muster your detective skills and gather your allies as you take to the streets to prove your innocence!

Semblance is a ‘playdough platformer’ with deformable terrain, set in a beautiful minimalist world. It is a game that asks, what if you could deform and reshape the world itself? It takes the idea of a ‘platform’ in a platformer and turns it on it’s head. What if the platform was actually part of the gameplay, part of the way you solved problems? Semblance takes one of the most saturated and stale genres, the platformer, and makes you think about it in new and fresh ways.

Slime-san was minding his own business, sliming around in a peaceful forest when suddenly…A giant worm appeared and gobbled him up! 
Now deep within the worm’s belly, Slime-san has to face a decision: Be digested by the incoming wall of stomach acid... Or jump, slide and slime his way through the worms intestines and back out its mouth!

Sole is an abstract, aesthetic-driven mobile adventure where you play as the only source of light in a world shrouded in darkness. Wander through desolate environments, painting the land with light as you discover its mysterious past. Explore the remnants of great cities and uncover the history of an ancient civilization on your journey to restore life to an abandoned world.

Super 80s World takes you back to the decade of the 1980s. A madman is out to destroy the decade and you must collect old-school memorabilia in order to escape. Facing a series of obstacles and traversing the decade year by year, collecting memorabilia is the only way to save the 80s!

The task is simple, make some oatmeal in the communal kitchen of your dorm. A STRANGER COMES CALLING is a black-and-white absurdist FMV game about answering your front door when you don't even know who's outside. Help Awkward Steve lower his anxiety by hiding under tables, petting rabbits and more in this black-and-white faux arthouse thriller*! (*""Thriller"" might be stretching it. The rabbits are super-cute, though.)

The Great Whale Road is where story-driven RPG and turn-based tactics meet interactive historical fiction. Set in the Early Middle Ages, the game revives an ancient world through its digitally hand-drawn art, colourful characters, atmospheric soundtrack, and deeply researched lore.

The Metronomicon is a fusion of the high-speed, fluid, zen-like state of playing a rhythm/music game with the story-rich loot, leveling, and character building of a full length RPG. It's like... if Rock Band were for one-man bands... and every member of the band liked swords."

Thing-in-Itself is an interactive short story about the struggles of understanding another human being. Using Immanuel Kant’s concept as a framework, it leads the player through stages of a relationship, exploring how perceptions may clash and surroundings can alter.

Vye is an area control game that plays quickly across an ever increasing, and oftentimes contentious board, usually taking less than half an hour. It has been favorably compared to Carcassonne, Othello and Go. Playing your cards strategically enables you to capture your opponent’s lands and control the largest kingdom, thereby winning the game.

Word after Word:The game is played by two to four people, each with their own keyboard. Each player is given the same randomly generated series of adjectives one at a time. For each adjective, each player tries to identify the noun that most commonly follows it (e.g. fast CAR). Each player is given a score based on how often their noun follows the given adjective in a dataset compiled from over a half a billion words taken from magazines, tv, and books. For each prompt, there are potentially thousands of correct answers of varying degrees. As an example, let’s say players were given the word “traditional.” In the dataset, there are approximately 2000 nouns that would be accepted and scored. High scoring answers would be: role, family, and music. The first to a given score wins.

The world is over, and it’s too late to be a survivor… You’ve already gotten infected! Actually that feels great! Let's party! Dancing, hopping, ambush survivors and eat brains! In Zombies Shall Not Pass, you’re a zombie leader conquering a survivors’ shelter. Ambush survivors and eat brains with your shambling hordes."

News, Info & Press

In the News (2017)