Indie Game the Movie

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Indie Game the Movie Poster

Indie Game looks like an exciting new documentary film about indie game development. The story follows the obsessive personal creative process of real developers making real indie games. Michael Dante DiMartino recognises it as a movie less about video gaming and more about the purpose and nature of Art:

Create fearlessly. Follow your passion.

The documentary follows the tumultuous emotional journeys of a handful of intensely-driven dudes as they forced these games into existence, facing adversity at every level-up. The film itself was acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival and is featured in Possible Worlds, the 2012 Canadian Film Festival in Sydney at the Dendy. The feature was inspired by a short film about Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo. Yes go watch that too.

It seems like the technological and economic conditions are right for indie games. It even seems as though independent video games are in a renaissance. I’m old enough to remember the 1980s where the shelves of suburban computer stores were usually stocked with video games with photocopied disk and cassette sleeves – home made Commodore 64 computer games. Back then we were naive enough to believe that video games could be made without large teams of dedicated artists, producers and QA people, even going so far as to believe it was possible for an individual programmer to make something fun to play! Such childish idealism! People actually paid money for those home made games, if the price was right. Kids everywhere wanted to make their own video games and be like their heroes: people like David Braben and Jeff Minter. It seems like those days are back again. People are buying and playing video games made by individuals and small teams and this spells trouble for big dumb companies who have grown lazy peddling a catalog full of big budget mediocrity. What’s more, indie games frequently adopt a lo-fi styling using pixellated graphics as if to emphasise the attractively humble origins of the game project, or perhaps to highlight this fact:

Fun is resolution-independent.

In a twist of feel-good indie fate that is so perfect that a froth of conspiracy theorists will surely claim it was concocted by an evil PR firm for an old media kiretsu to lull us indie game fans into a false sense of disruptive innovation, the film project was hatched and funded on Kickstarter. They hoped for at least $15k but actually raised just under $25k from nearly 300 backers pledging anything from $1, garnering thanks, to over $300 in exchange for (amongst the special edition merch) having one’s own video game trailer tastefully appended to the movie!

The games include indie hits Super Meat Boy with plentry of hearty platform carnage, painterly time-puzzle platformer Braid and Minecraft Notch’s recent obsession, the 3D crypto-twister Fez.

If you’re in Sydney you can get a festival ticket for $16 (includes a free drink) and not only watch the movie, but see the video games first-hand as they will be set up to play. If, however, you don’t drink/live in Sydney/want to be seen in public, you can get an even cheaper fix as a digital download direct from the filmmakers. Just like buying a cassette from the back of an artist’s car.

Does this make you want to be an indie game developer? Are video games Art? Are we witnessing an indie games renaissance? What do you think of the movie?

Previously featured: Kickstarter video game pitch for Double Fine Adventure and Neal Stephenson’s project.