In 2021, the New York-based Tribeca Film Festival – founded by Robert De Niro and his business partners in the wake of 9/11 – introduced video games to the event and its award proceedings, while also changing its name to ‘Tribeca Festival’. The excellent Norco took out the inaugural games award, and in 2022, the colourful, humorous, South Asian RPG Thirsty Suitors by Outerloop Games has been awarded the second annual prize.
Revolving around the homecoming of protagonist Jala to her South Asian family, Thirsty Suitors plays with RPG and anime tropes to tell a story about cultural diasporas, familial expectations, and navigating modern LGBTQIA issues with older generations. It features a lot of unique-looking boss battles, and also a lot of cool skateboarding.
Outerloop Games is the self-described ‘minority-led, fully distributed indie game studio’ that previously developed Falcon Age, a unique falconeering game developed primarily for VR. Creative director Chandana Ekanayake gave the keynote address at Games Connect Asia Pacific in 2021.
‘For its quirky comedy, artful aesthetic, and innovative blending of storytelling and gameplay mechanics, the Tribeca Games Award goes to Thirsty Suitors!’ said the festival while promoting the win.
Thirsty Suitors does not currently have a release date. It will be published by Annapurna Interactive.
The selections for Tribeca typically focus on games that exhibit a very strong artistic or narrative identity. The official selection for the 2022 Tribeca Games Award included the following titles:
- A Plague Tale: Requiem – Asobo Studio and Focus Entertainment
- American Arcadia – Out of the Blue Games and Raw Fury
- As Dusk Falls – INTERIOR/NIGHT and Xbox Game Studios
- Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course – Studio MDHR
- Immortality – Half Mermaid and Sam Barlow
- Oxenfree II: Lost Signals – Night School Studio and Netflix
- The Cub – Demagog Studio and Untold Tales
- Thirsty Suitors – Outerloop Games and Annapurna Interactive
- Venba – Visai Games