So it is no secret that I love video games, they are a great way to escape from the drudgery of 9 to 5 living by losing yourself in a wonderful story and a beautiful world. There are a lot of games out there from the latest “AAA” big budget blockbuster to the little indie game developed by a “team” of one. In the early days of my gaming journey, I was very much drawn to the big names (Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Tom Clancy games etc) but in recent years I have noticed my tastes changing. I have know idea why my tastes have changed; maybe it is age or maybe it is one of those things that is just ineffable. I would just like to share a few of my reasons for being drawn more to indie games than the big budget blockbusters.
I think the biggest reason is that many indie games are passion projects made by a small close knit team for the love of the craft rather than being driven by profit. I believe this mindset results in a game made with pride in one’s accomplishment rather than being made to a checklist to earn a salary. This comes across in the final game; it may not be in your face obvious but it shows in the little touches that make the game come together and in the way the developers talk about and promote the game. When I hear a developer talk with passion and pride about their game and the process of creating it, it definitely becomes interesting to me.
The other reason I believe I am drawn to indie games is most likely down to the fact they are not tied to a big name publisher and so can take more creative risks to create the game they want to make. In recent years I have noticed that most “AAA” games tend to be very similar, like they have found the magic formula for generating sales and they don’t want to deviate from it. Indie developers have the freedom to try something new and a lot of the time something interesting results. Take a platform like itch.io, just browsing the home page of the store will show you some very weird (in a good way), quirky and interesting games. They do host regular game jams over there open to anyone with skills so perhaps that is a reason Itch is the defacto home for the quirky and interesting, they foster a community where creativity and being weird is encouraged. It’s hard to imagine EA or Ubisoft creating a bee hive management simulator for example.
Honestly, I think I would like to see game development becoming a little bit less of an industry and a little bit more of a hobbyist pursuit. In terms of the art, society would most likely be richer for it.