Walking the BitSummit floor with James Mielke, founder of the annual indie game showcase held in Kyoto, is a fit of stops and starts. Amongst the scramble of games being packed up and booths and stages taken down, Mielke gets stopped every few seconds by developers who want to express their thanks for being included in the event, which held its fifth edition late this May.
The first BitSummit, in 2013, was an experiment. Let's put a bunch of Japanese indie developers in a room and mix in media and representatives from the wider industry, and see what happens. The second BitSummit refined the model, and the show hit its stride in the third year.
"Return of the indies," reads the banner outside Kyoto's Miyako Messe, the host location for this year's BitSummit. True enough, the event was back for its third year, but Japanese indies hadn't really gone anywhere. The scene may have been scattered and relegated to the shadows before the BitRider came along and gave it a shot of adrenaline, but the familiar faces in the crowd suggested these indies have always been here.