Blog: Indie Games – “Less” is the new “More”

By on December 19, 2010

Sometimes, we all need to unleash our little inner casual gamer…

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First Impressions
My reaction is

indie (noun): a small independent pop group, record label, or film company.
– The Oxford Dictionary online

As I read the above definition for the third time in a row, my faith in the supposed accuracy of Oxford’s linguistic capabilities wavers slightly. My eyes widen with amazement as my eyebrows prepare for the inevitable vertical takeoff that is sure to follow. I stare at my screen stupidly, my mouth quickly forming a big gaping hole of disbelief, before silently spouting the words “what”, “the”, and “hell” that make up the phrase that’s been floating in my mind ever since I first cast my eyes upon that definition…

They DIDN’T mention VIDEO GAMES? Holy retarded lexicographers, Batman!

Ok, so I have a tendency to exaggerate. But hey, stop and think for a minute or two and you’ll probably agree with me to a very good extent. Any respectable gamer with good knowledge of the happenings in our beloved little industry of pixelated entertainment knows what a veritable treasure trove of fun and enjoyment today’s indie games bring with them. Just jog your memory for a second – World of Goo, Crayon Physics, And Yet It Moves, Osmos, Braid, Limbo – all little masterpieces in their own unique way, and yet all crafted by a handful of guys and gals with no big commercial names or oodles of cash to fall back on. Not only did these games just work, but they ushered in fresh, new concepts and compelling mechanics which hadn’t really received much thought before.

They managed to leave a lasting impression on a large audience of gamers the world over, through either their innovative gameplay, beautiful or in some cases absurd art styles, awe-inspiring soundtracks, or even a combination of these.

At this point, I’d like you to note that “a large audience” is in no way indicative of or synonymous with “the whole audience”. Sadly, the brilliance of some of these games is completely lost on some folk who consider themselves the oh-so-elite, “hardcore” gamers. For them, to partake in some indie game goodness is considered below their dignity, and probably a sheer waste of time. “Oh man, I’m just like, you know, such a hardcore, serious gamer, you know? Like, World of Warcraft, man, and all those awesome games where you can shoot the shit outta people, you know…that’s how I roll, man. All this other stuff about motes and goo balls and crayons is like, you know, for sissies and wannabe gamers, you know? Yeah man, sorry, but I’m just too uber cool for all that shit, man.”

*Sigh*. Poor disillusioned little bastards. Don’t know what they’re missing out on.

So, the highlight of my little rant: the indie genre hasn’t yet received the acclaim and appreciation that it could potentially receive if gamers all around the world would be a little more open-minded and not confine the meaning of “fun” to big publishers, bleeding edge graphics, and oversized guns, blood splatters, and 10-hour campaigns. Part of our innate nature as humans is to remain in our comfort zone once we find a cozy spot within a given situation, but this isn’t necessarily the best move to make every single time. Developers, too, exhibit this behaviour when they tend to keep repeating the same damn formula for a game time and time again, until it’s done to death and people are sick and tired of seeing it. This is exactly where and why indie games shine – they dare to do something different and unique, and more often than not, the end result is very well received. You probably think of me as a delirious fanboy of the genre, but all those awards and nominations for excellence at those yearly games competitions/festivals around the world aren’t just given out for the heck of it. And I’m no fanboy by a long shot; give me a crappy indie game, and I’ll blatantly call it crappy. But shunning the entire breed of games just because they aren’t complex and haven’t had hundreds of hours and millions of dollars put into them is just being plain ignorant.

Some of the top indie games over the past few years can easily put some of today’s supposed triple-A titles to shame in terms of gameplay and overall fun factor; and that too, at a fraction of the cost. Want proof? Go purchase the new Medal of Honor, and say, Limbo, at full price, play through each of them, and then compare the fun and disappointment factors. You may be very surprised.

Oh yeah, here’s a much nicer definition for all you respectable gamers:

indie (noun): a small independent pop group, record label, or film company. Also, a group of ingenious, talented individuals dedicated to the fine art of producing awesome little videogames, capable of rocking the socks off gamers all over the world. Except for those self-proclaimed “hardcore” ones, that is. They’re just stoned outta their mind.
– Rohan Anchan

Oxford ain’t got shit on this guy here, huh?


About

Loves video games lots, but loves video game development even more. Has a Bachelor's degree in the field, yet the technical complexity behind those billions of interactive pixels boggles his mind. His brain will either conjure up the next best game or turn into gravy in 5 years time.

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