I’m not really good at reviewing things because of how shallow everything seems to be when you’re trying to analyze and critique a work, but not give away spoilers. So, whatever, I’m just going to spew my thoughts out about Indie Game: The Movie. If you don’t want small spoilers then see the movie for yourself.
This is a great documentary that revolves around the development of three major indie games: Braid, Super Meat Boy, and Fez. This film drives home the idea that these game’s don’t make themselves, and especially when we’re talking about indie games, that these game developers are real people. I know it seems really stupid to think that we would need a film that reveals to the whole world that real people, real artists who sacrifice so much to make something a reality, make these games, but the sad part is, it does. The movie emphasizes the stress, anxiety, and pressure it takes to make an indie game that not only has to be a fun and entertaining experience, but also acts as an abstract portrait of yourself.
One of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire film was after Jonathan Blow released Braid, after going on about how much the game means to him personally, and having people not understand the deeper meanings of the game. The film had Souja Boy praising the game, saying it was fun and had cool game mechanics, which seems like Braid was really connecting with people, but then basically says that the game had no point, you just run and jump around. That moment, literally caused me to cringe in pain, but it didn’t stop there. The film spends a lot of time focusing on how unrewarding creating a piece of art as a video game could go.
A major theme throughout the movie was that neither Blow or Team Meat cared about their scores or sales (well, okay, Team Meat cared about their sales a little, but only after the game was released), but whether or not people were getting it. It also reinforced the reason why people like these guys make games: to express themselves and to make people happy. It also reinforced the idea that the problem with reviews are that they are shallow and have no idea how to read the textuality of a game.
Although I don’t think anyone has had it harder than Phil Fish, the designer behind Fez who has been working on the game for 5 years. Everything from corporate legal matters to game breaking bugs on one of his first public demos had attacked him all at once and it would just seem that he couldn’t catch a break. Luckily, after the show he assured us that the game is scheduled to come out Q1 of this year, but it’s still hard not to feel bad for him for everything he has gone through. Personally, I think the worst was how the “fans” dealt with him, basically saying they hate him because he couldn’t get the game fast enough. This sense of entitlement is not new from the internet’s gaming culture, but while I can somewhat understand it from gamers regarding a bigger company, the fact that Fish hand crafts the entire game by what seemed like pretty much himself and is trying to make it perfect (an ethic I think more major developers should adopt), it’s pretty horrifying that people out there seem to think that anyone of these guys owes anyone else anything for all the hardwork they put into these games.
Overall, the movie is perfect for anyone who wants to delve into the world of indie games themselves. It definitely shows you the downside for working a mostly thankless, sleep depriving, and stress inducing job but it also shows you that it can have a good payoff with time, effort, and a little luck. Honestly, I think the will also force some of us to look deep inside ourselves to see if we have the right stuff to make in game development. If you want to see this movie, here is where you can the times and locations, but you can also pre-order the DVD at their website. This is definitely a movie that everyone, not just aspiring game developers although it would probably serve them the most, should see. Also, expect to cry.