Indie Game: The Movie (2012) – An Awe-inspiring Documentary

Roger Ebert once wrote in his journal about whether video games are art. Ebert never believed even during the end of his life. His thoughts would never change. Today, the debate still invited so many questions. Even more, there is a debate between movies as a literary or not. To be honest, that’s not a debatable question of whether people will say art, literature, or not. Personally, I’m freaking love indie games and I appreciate it as an aesthetic work; not comparable to AAA games. Indie games don’t often get many stages. Morely, they work alone rather than inviting many people or creating a company. Through this documentary, James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot changed a superficial thought about indie games.

This documentary tells about various difficulties faced by game developers as connoisseurs of a work. It explores the real effort and passion of a game developer. Here, we become acquainted with Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes. At the time, they were making a video game called “Super Meat Boy”. On the other hand, there was Phil Fish who temporarily developed “Fez”. He also has to deal with legal uncertainty and continues pressured by other things. In addition, there was Jonathan Blow with his game, “Braid”. This documentary explores all kinds of lives from all of them. What are their goals, their future, and what they have to face?

“Indie Game: The Movie” isn’t a smart nerdy-like movie. This film doesn’t draw us to understand everything about computers. Here, we don’t find knowledge about coding or programming. This documentary invites us to enter such world of game developers. We share how they feel. How a developer works until their work successfully marketed, everything is shown. They all have freedom in unlimited expression and creativity. However, this brought them to another appearance and what affected their project. Their difficulties include facing internal problems, not having investors, not having a publisher, divorce, conflict, lack of funds, family and others.

This documentary is not about art or not who is the best. Those who work as programmers, designers, and developers did whatever they can to survive in their scope. They are also not EA, Activision, or Epic Games. Independent games are made by people who work in such an environment. They work alone from compiling a code, writing a program, designing, learning pixel art, and etc. Companies such as Microsoft participate in it. They tried their best. They must be able to adapt to the online gaming community and social media.

This documentary about video games is not a thing as smart people. Pajot and Swirsky wrote this documentary in its pure emotional feeling. It’s full of suspense, there is a consequence they have to do if their game fails. As Phil Fish said if “Fez” failed, he would commit suicide. I know, I know, the community really hates Fish in various kinds of problems and controversies he made a few years ago. In addition to Phil Fish, McMullen brought his childhood experience into a flash game. Himself, as a child, was very fond of drawing monsters. To the extent that his parents and teachers consider him to be in a mental disorder.

McMillen and Refenes said that “Super Meat Boy” tells about a love story. Focusing on a skinless boy, he must save his girlfriend. McMillen always said why meat boy doesn’t have skin. Well, the answer is simple. He was stuck on a band-aid and vice versa. He also doesn’t want the game to look like “Super Mario Brothers”. As much as possible, he assembles various levels and elements so that players can stick with their controller and complete the game with anger.

Phil Fish’s “Fez” is a game about the world of 2D but 3D. He got a lot of praise in 2008 when he introduced the demo version. However, he must face various problems. He has to face the bizarre gamers community, design issues, problems with his partners, and various other dramas. Phil Fish says that you can’t make anything big before showing the demo. It took years to make a game and even alike “Grand Theft Auto V”. Whereas Fish, he was just himself alone who has to deal with impatient community gamers. Frustration goes on to him.

One of the main keys of this documentary is the use of the interview technique. The game developer is free to express their emotions and feelings. As if, they had found a new container and it was just right to vent all their feelings they had gotten. “Indie Game: The Movie” managed to deliver a pleasant viewing experience for both gamers and non-gamers. Through this series of stories, there are joys and sorrows. This film also provides very meaningful information besides it’s about video games. In essence, making work is not easy. It also requires a lot of time especially for those who are independent. This film changes the minds of some people who are still stuck in one perspective.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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