Indie games are getting more and more popular in a landscape where big-budget titles fail to innovate and capture the hearts of a large group of the gaming community. Many gamers look to titles like Journey, Limbo and Gone Home for new and moving experiences most of the big boys won’t or can’t create. Indie games are the art to AAA-games’ Hollywood fare and their creators aren’t that different from authors in other fields: these guys make games, because they simply have to. Indie Game: The Movie follows the minds behind indie darlings Braid, Super Meat Boy and Fez, and explores what makes them tick.
Indie Game: The Movie is more a series of interviews than it’s a documentary that focusses on the aspects of making indie games and the history of the independent video games. These stories are very personal and that’s actually the documentary’s strength: it’s about people, not about games per se. That’s not to say there’s no insight into the business at all: Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes struggle to finish their game Super Meat Boy before the deadline presented to them by Microsoft, Braid‘s Jonathan Blow talks about game reviews and Fez‘s Phil Fish tries to generate positive attention for his project at a convention. But these insights into a larger gaming culture are only looked at as part of the lives these people lead. Film makers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky explore how these experiences influence the present and future of these indie game developers, and what has steered them towards this livelyhood. It’s about the mind of artists and the sacrifices they make for their craft.
Indie Game: The Movie therefore is a touching documentary about the creators behind the world’s newest art form video games. It doesn’t dig very deep and never sets out to explore the workings of the gaming industry and the role indie games fulfill in that field, but it really delivers on telling the story of the individual artist. And it’s a story worth telling. 8/10