If Indie Game: The Movie drives one point home, it’s that the idea of indy, when it comes to games, is so all-encompassing and vague at the same time, that it’s entirely useless at this point to talk about anything with insight. I’ve followed the freeware gaming and small time-developer scene for more than a decade at this point, and IG:TM looks like someone poking at tip of an iceberg (which more than 99% of it being under water) and concluding that this is all there is.
Now, the makers of IG:TM never make the claim to be exhaustive, but all that the movie amounts to is following a few indy creators, trying to squeeze a human interest story with a common theme out of those few and that’s it. I wouldn’t go so far and call it a documentary, it’s a reality soap opera docu-tainment that paints most of those creators in a decidedly unpleasant light and focuses nearly entirely on those creators getting their games out and getting success in a financial sense.
Getting monetary rewards is important, whether you’re a tripleA studio or bedroom developer, but it’s far from the only and far from the most interesting aspect of being indy. If there’s one thing that for me characterized the indy scene and makes it different from big time developers, it’s the big amount of game creation tools that have leveled the playing field. Whether it’s adventures, rpgs, action games, platformers or whatever else comes to mind, dedicated individuals have far more tools at hand these days to make small and mid-sized games than ever before in history.
Some of the most entertaining games I’ve played in recent years have come out of these creative depths, and while they may not stack up in terms of the most sophisticated graphics, the gameplay is oftentimes much better. And while indy and small time development doesn’t automatically equal creativity (most of the indy stuff is still pretty conservative), it is far more creative on the whole than the rest of the gaming industry.
That’s the story that should have been the core of any movie about indy games. IG:TM though completely manages to focus on the least interesting aspect, going for a few individuals that, in the bigger scheme of things, are as interesting as dry paint.