Vlambeer's Rami Ismail shows off some favorites from PAX East 2018


A mini-Sup Holmes episode around the show floor

[Update: Rami just reached out to me for additional comment and correction regarding the nature of The Playground. I think that in the original post I made it sound too much like Rami and his partners are intending to somehow replace the PAX Indie Mega Booth.

Rami says “ThePlayground is meant to complement IMB at PAX by offering larger indies a place to showcase, allowing IMB to continue being the bazaar of wonderful discovery that it has always been. It is in no way meant to replace or compete with MEGABOOTH, as I was one of the earlier collaborators on that, and was and continue to be super proud and thankful for their efforts.” Thanks for clearing that up Rami, and my apologies if I misconstrued your intent the first time around.]

Up until yesterday, I hadn’t seen Rami Ismail face-to-face in few years. After all the success he’s seen since the release of Ridiculous Fishing, I figured he might be a millionaire by now, with bodyguards, a taser and his own private PAX yacht.

Regardless of his newfound fame and fortune, it only took a few minutes of catching up with Rami at PAX East before I saw that he was the same guy that I met on Sup Holmes all those years ago. If anything, he seemed more humble than before, and even more excited about videogames, than he was back in the days when he’d been struggling to make ends meet. He almost immediately offered to show me some of his favorite games at the show, including Kuso, Tunic, Overland, Night in the Woods, Due Process, and Semblance. We also got to talk a bit with Bex Saltsman about the unifying traits of the titles she and her team at Finji have chosen to publish. I happened to have my video camera with me, so I recorded it for the heck of it.

She and Rami are also teaming up on a reboot of the classic PAX Indie Mega Booth. If you were at the show this year, then you know that the Mega Booth is a booth in name only. It now takes up about 1/3 of the games area on the show floor. While it’s great that indies are doing well enough to dominate PAX in ways that would have been unheard of ten years ago, the intimate, comfortable vibe of the Indie Booth of old is effectively dead. With The Playground, Rami, Bex and their partners are working to bring it back. Their strategy is simple – take an area of the show floor that’s largely ignored (the front left corner) and use that extra space to spread out and give people the opportunity to stretch their legs and relax.

It’s a great concept, but if it gets too popular, it’s likely to become just as big and crowded as the Mega Booth is now. If that’s the case, I’m sure Rami will find a way to innovate yet again. Which reminds me, he also let me hear about a few of the concepts he has for new Vlambeer projects, but I’ll have to save that news for next time.