Indie Game: The Movie Reviewed

A compelling glimpse into the passion game making through the eyes of 4 indie game developers.

In this smart and somewhat chilling documentary “Indie Game: the Movie,” video game designer Phil Fish chillingly said into the camera that he would commit suicide if his brain child for several years “Fez” would not be released or completed, you get the feeling that he wasn’t trying to be a reality TV drama queen; you see the sincerity in his eyes. That’s the level of depth and sincerity that the filmmakers James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot managed to show here as they follow the daily struggles of an indie game developer through the eyes of 4 men who are desperately trying succeed in the often highly lucrative Video Games Industry.

A welcome introduction for the aspiring game developers, “Indie Game: The Movie” lays bare the passion that lies behind the pixels, illuminating the sweat, tears and sleep deprivation that goes into making a blockbuster indie game. Not only would this movie show that Video Game Development is not all fun and games, this movie actually shows that game development process is exceedingly strenuous( just look at the amount of hair left on Tommy Refenes head after at the end of the movie). But for indie developers who reject the idea of toiling in teams of hundreds and under the thumb of a corporate overlord, to produce a blockbuster with a team of less than 5, the work is even harder.

The movie featured the creator of Indie hit “Fez” Phil Fish, who spent more than four hair pulling years developing the much anticipated game midst every challenge put in front of him including the split between his business partner, losing his funding and nearly his sanity. The movie also compellingly follows the long distance collaboration between game designer and artist Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes as they create Xbox Live indie blockbuster “Super Meat Boy,” which went on to even beat critically acclaimed XBLA game “Braid” in first week sales. “Braid” creator Jonathan Blow also appeared in this movie often giving his post-success perspective on indie games and the games industry itself. He also talked about his disappointment when a large portion of the gamers who played his game did not “get” the underlying message that he tried to convey, the movie also showed his obsession to influence the gamers’ perception of the game by going through comments on forums such as UGO and blogs which turned him into somewhat of a comical figure in the games industry.

Fortunately, the filmmakers did not overdo the finer points which might turn off non gamers, offering just enough insight into the creative process to feel instructive and inspiring . This soft approach enabled the filmmakers to focus more on the raw single-minded emotions and personal sacrifice that unite its featured cast as well as the often touching ways in which their creations prove extensions of themselves.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

By Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Indie Game: The movie is available on STEAM and on their website

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