Video games are often misunderstood. I mean, they’ve only been around in popular form for around 30 years now and they’re still looked upon as a kids thing. They’re definitely not, and creating them is something else entirely.
Indie Game: The Movie is a look at three independent game developers. You may know them as the developers of Braid, Fez and Super Meat Boy (three darling indie games). This documentary chronicles what goes into making a video game independently while showing that video games are indeed an art form, at least the creation of them.
First time directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky move back and forth between three stories. Jonathan Blow, developer of Braid, is dealing with the post-release world of game development, Edmund and Tommy, developers of Super Meat Boy, are rushing to meet their release deadline and Phil Fish, developer of Fez, is dealing with an exceptionally long development time and legal troubles.
The stories are fascinating, engrossing and universal. Everyone can relate and feel for this group of creatives that’s sacrificing everything to achieve their dream. After all, it’s what everyone strives to do. These guys sacrifice their social lives, their sanity, their livelihood and lots of sleep to make their games. It’s not about sitting in your parents basement and coding away to become king nerd, it’s about putting yourself into a piece of art.
In fact, the developers we follow sometimes have trouble with people not getting their art. The artist can have an intention but the viewer/player may miss the meaning entirely. There’s a particular scene where Blow feels disappointment that people don’t get his Braid intercut with Soulja Boy (yes, Soulja Boy) playing the game like an absolute idiot. You can feel his hurt.
And that’s what makes Indie Game so lovable. You can really feel for these guys. This is their big chance to achieve their dreams, and they don’t want to miss out on it. By the end, you’ll feel so attached to the developers that you’ll want to purchase their games to support them. But that’s not because this is some sort of giant advertisement for the game, this is about people. Even if you’ve never picked up a game controller you’ll want these dudes to succeed.
There are some problems however. Fish, Edmund and Tommy have very compelling stories. They’re in the thick of developing their games. They have a clear end goal in sight. Blow, however, kind of gets lost in the shuffle. He has some interesting parts, but we don’t get to know him as closely as we do the others. Perhaps because we witness the others in the trenches and Blow is kind of like “hey, I did all that let me tell you about it.”
Overall, Indie Game: The Movie is a compelling watch, whether you’re into games or not. It’ll give you an idea into the development of some of your favorite indie games or even teach you about how a medium you may have ignored certainly has some merit to it.
Note: If you would like to watch Indie Game: The Movie, you’ll have to rent it on iTunes.