Watched May 22, 2012
Marcin Wichary’s review:
Before praising this documentary – and I think it deserves quite a bit of that – I need to recognize this is a field that’s very close to my heart. Perhaps I don’t play too many games any more, but I used to work for a videogame magazine, had a contract for a game that never saw the light of day, and, many years later, ultimately managed to (re)create and ship one. The process of making that happen was indie enough that I recognized many of the phases and emotions shown in Indie game: nights dedicated to coding, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things needed still to be done, the absolute terror of finding a game-breaking bug, the immense self-doubt, scare and exhaustion just before the launch… and neither triumph nor elation, but simply relief that things are finally over right after.
(Oh, and pieces of paper with lists of bugs to fix, soiled by food. But let’s not talk about that.)
So, I might be biased. But aren’t many of those things universal, regardless of what is it that you practice and pour your heart in? The power of Indie game lies not in talking about videogames – although it provides enough context not to be opaque – but in presenting them as works of art: intimately personal creations of people like us, people who are passionate, vulnerable, dedicated, but also at times compulsive, pretentious, and judgmental.
The documentary follows two tiny teams over the course of a few months before the release of their games (Super meat boy and Fez), and in between talks to the author of another, popular and influential one (Braid). All of the interviews are surprisingly honest, touching, and introspective. It’s not just talking heads, either – there’s a lot of auxiliary bits and pieces, great camera work, great editing, and a good soundtrack. Even the end credits are clever.
There’s a classic quote from one of the earliest movies about videogames: “Is it a game, or is it real?” I think it applies here too, although it takes on a very different meaning. Recommended.