Watched May 03, 2012
Peter Strauss’s review:
Maybe the best argument against game piracy I've ever seen, Indie Game: The Movie depicts three different independent game developers (all of which are either 1 or 2 people) at various stages of the creative process. One (Jonathan Blow who created 'Braid') after completion and release reflecting on the experience; another (Team Meat, creators of 'Super Meat Boy') at the final stretch as their game preps for release after a long development; and finally Phil Fish, creator of Fez, in the confusing, doubtful center of development.
What is most amazing about Indie Game is that you don't need to be a gamer to get it, or enjoy it. It speaks on a much larger scale about the creative process as a whole. The pitfalls, doubts, successes, motivations, and complications that arise throughout it. The temptation to drop the project and move on versus seeing it through, and most profoundly, the utter fear that comes with sharing something you created with the world who is more than willing to chew it up and spit it out. The whole point of creating is to share, even though as the subjects of this film note, it's often a selfish act, yet it has to be released. The movie touches on the give-take nature of the internet; the amazing power online communities have to support and spread your passion, while simultaneously responding with indifferent knee-jerk reactions to things that these people spent most of their adult life building. The internet gives these developers the avenue to succeed, but along with that comes the "army of assholes" as Phil Fish puts it.
At first glance, Indie Game looks like a cautionary tale of the anxiety-creating monster that is video games and self-motivated art, but it is actually a massively inspiring film. Within the first 15 minutes, it lays down the background of how indie games got to where they are today (thanks Valve!) and without even arguing, successfully makes the argument for games as art (as if the crowd needed much convincing, myself included). The utter devotion and vulnerability of the subjects is fascinating, and even at their most broken they are still driven to complete something that is causing them so much pain, because, as anyone who has ever created something can tell you, the euphoria of the finished product is well worth it. Success or not.
Indie Game unfortunately dates itself by constantly time-stamping events, that by my screening, were very outdated. Regardless, it captures the creative process with such authenticity that it can sometimes be tough to watch. Each subject is interesting and their overlapping, yet wholly separate positions in this process give the movie a feeling of completion, despite not really having much actual closure.