A few weeks ago I made a post concerning an upcoming documentary film examining the world of independent games. On June 12th 2012 the film was finally release across multiple platforms and it blew me away. I was expecting to see a humble and interesting view on what seems like a very small part of an already ill respected art form, but instead the film delved into the honest stories of artists who are utterly devoted to creating. Video games are generally dismissed by our society, news stories across poorly informed media sources tell the nation that they lead to school massacres and teen depression. The truth is very different, below the franchise games (which still deserve merit in themselves) lies a world of far more personal and creative talent. Independent games represent an entire generation of creatives who want to produce work for a different reason. This part of the industry is not driven by profits or money, but instead by the desire purely to creative and connect with an audience.
Indie Game: The Movie examines these worlds, looking mainly at three individuals as they get ready to launch their first major independent titles.
Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes are the minds behind the brilliantly infuriating platformer Super Meat Boy.They both seem like normal good guy gamers, they sit at their desks hour after hour trying to create a platformer that brings back the memories of older generation games. We follow their struggles as they prepare to launch their game through Xbox Live Arcade, deadlines and bug fixing seem to have led them almost to insanity, but they continue to work long hours because this is what they feel they have to do.
"My whole career has been me trying to find new ways to communicate with new people because I desperately want to communicate with new people..." - Edmund McMillen
The film concurrently examines the development of 2d/3d platformer Fez, by creator Phil Fish. The same stresses concern him, but along with the usual bug fixing and tweaking he is under pressure from a ton of fans who want to see his game sooner rather than later. A world of internet hate plagues his mind as he desperately tries to get his project out into the world. What the film demonstrates perfectly with all three men is that they clearly care about connecting with their audience. They have dedicated years of their lives to making a game that they feel people may care about and in a world of internet reviews and message boards it could all fail very easily.
"It is the sum total of every expressive medium of all time...it's awesome!" - Phil Fish
Interviews intertwine each narrative strand as indie game creators such as the legendary Johnathon Blow (creator of the incredible Braid) talk honestly about why they create. Underneath the games and stories is a very honest tale that talks personally to anyone who has ever tried to create anything they care about.
"Making it was about - let me take my deepest floors and vulnerabilities and put them in the game" - Jonathan Blow
As an animator (an industry that equally goes ill respected by most) it all felt extremely close to what I have experienced over the past three years. We work so closely on projects that we deeply care about in an attempt to truly connect with other human beings in a personal and special way that when these projects sometimes fail it all seems too much. The creative process is all consuming, taking years away from us and often leaving us hollow. But we still continue to do so, not because we hope one day to make vast amounts of money or gain high levels of fame, but because it feels as though that is what life is for, to connect with other people.
This is is the heart that makes this small budget documentary so compelling. It is an inspiration to see people so dedicated to creating despite all that could possibly go wrong.
"All you have been doing for four years is look at this, like this close...you can't see anything else. You don't even see the mistakes any more." Phil Fish
I couldn't give Indie Game: The Movie higher praise, it is a truly inspirational tale that warms the heart. There is plenty of hate for the movie on the internet, but that could be said of anything. The documentary gives a beautiful insight into what it is like to dedicate oneself to creating. Whether a gamer or not, this is a film that has to be seen.
To find out more check out www.indiegamethemovie.com