INDIE GAMES AND THE GAMING INDUSTRY
Today, many of the mainstream game developers create big budget games aimed at a profit due to pressure from publishers. That has resulted in many game series, once respected for their innovation, great narrative and quality gameplay, trying to follow the same successful formula resulting in stale, boring and monotonous annual release that fails to amuse. Although financially successful, many of the games suffer with a lower review score due to the lack of any progression from the prior. Many mainstream developers do attempt to stray from the formula but not always to far lengths or great financial success. However, due to the rising availability of online distribution methods and funding platforms, indie developers have received an excellent opportunity to enter the market and truly wow us with their innovative games.
The Independent Games Festival has become a popular destination for driven developers to showcase their work.
Independent video games have been on the rise in popularity since the beginning of the decade. Without budget limits and big publishers to adhere to, the developers are in full creative control of the games they produce resulting in innovative, creative and truly original gaming masterpieces. The internet has been kind to them as Steam Greenlight and later Steam’s Easy Access platforms allow for small time game makers to showcase their work and in some cases – reach mainstream popularity.
Kickstarter has also provided developers with adequate funding to make their games become a reality. Due to their immense popularity indie games have received their right to a convention as more and more developers showcase their games at E3, Comic Con, Indie Games Festival and IndieCade.
One of the many popular indie games is Minecraft.
A perfect example of the ingenuity of some of those craftsmen is the highly popular Minecraft. When I was first introduced into the game in it‘s early alpha stages, I immediately saw a bright future for it and was quick to pick it up. Its blocky graphics and nearly unlimited creativity potential proved irresistible to many gamers, including myself. After years in development and a foreseeable end in sight, my optimism had paid off as the game has become financially successful, selling over 15 million copies since first revealed. The immense popularity of the game has also made famous many of today’s gaming stars on YouTube and continues to serve as an inspiration for many small time developers who dream of stardom and riches. Although Minecraft is not the only game to reach big time status with examples such as Terrarria, Braid, World of Goo, Kerbal Space Program and others, not all games are destined for the top.
A documentary showcasing what making games means to three developers
With the full creative control and away from any limitations and guidance, independent developers could borrow themes from their deepest and darkest emotions and memories allowing us to see a piece of the artist behind the masterpiece.
The 2012 documentary “Indie Game: The Movie” follows the story of three games who have reached popularity: Braid, released in 2008, Super Meat Boy, released in 2011 and Fez, a game with a rocky development cycle. The movie shows us not only the story of the games but the personal struggle of the developers behind it, a theme present in many of the artists of old who produced true masterpieces that deserve the spotlight of a museum. At the current state of the market, the future for these small time game makers seems bright and my hope is to see more of them in the coming years, showing us what gaming is all about – not just the money but the ambition to create something truly personal and original.