Just watched Indie Game, a documentary that follows two indie games that are to be released. It’s a compelling story of three developers as they pour their heart & souls into their respective games. Indie video games are a genre of video games that have gained popularity ever since game development has turned industrial. Indie games aren’t the polished flagship epics of each platform (Halo, Modern Warfare, Assassin’s Creed, etc.) that are created by teams of thousands of developers. Indie games are built by few people and dreamed up by even fewer. These games usually take a stylistic bent towards arcade games of the past (Mario, Tetris, Zelda, MegaMan, etc.) Indie game developers desire to bring the heart and soul back to gaming. They do so by pouring each of their own into them.
Phil is the brainchild & indie game genius that has been developing his game, Fez, for the past 4 years. Phil is an opinionated creative that demands perfection from himself as well as his craft. To him Fez is art & needs to perform as such. He’s been heavily criticized in his continual delay of debuting Fez, taking each criticism personal. Edmund & Timothy are the team behind Super Meat Boy, which has been in development for 3 years. Edmund is a long time indie game developer that has created “dark” & “off the wall” games all his life. Timothy, Edmund’s programer is a reclusive creative that lives to program, desires the best for his family, & nothing more.
Now, I’m not a gamer myself but I’ve been a fan of the craft for a good bit now. But I am a story teller and an observer of the human condition & it’s struggles. The documentary walks you through the process of developing an indie game, the task it is to dream it, create it, code it, play it, develop it, doubt it, recode it, replay it, submit it, and then wait for it. The struggle that each of these men face with just trying to create something, is so genuine, so pure. Hopes & dreams are expressed; some lived out while others are dashed. They spend all their waking hours programming to give the public something enjoyable to play yet to them the characters, levels, mechanics, story, and game play are all personal.
Take Edmunds & Timothy’s game for example, Super MeatBoy. The main character is a boy that has no skin just raw red flesh. (Hence the name Meat Boy.) At first glance it can be a disturbing cosmetic choice but it’s more significant then that. Meat Boy is all flesh because Edmund resonates with feeling exposed. He sees everyone as exposed, living life with their emotions & thoughts out in the open, racing to find cover. Figuratively & physically.
Sure it’s wrapped up in geeky dreams, developer lingo, and gaming blogs but the desire to find meaning to life is at the core of each of these men’s creative process.
The doc presents these artist’s struggles based in reality. Bleak is their struggle and hopeful is their desired outcome. Weirdly I desire this same bleakness. I desire to be so involved in a creative project that I lose track of the days, become so consumed within an alternative narrative than life itself, sacrifice all relationships in the dire attempt to present a final product that I am proud of. And hopefully people will enjoy just as much as I enjoyed creating it!
The struggle is real for Phil, Edmund & Timothy and the hope of the final outcome is real also.
It might even be worth it.