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September 16, 2005

Indie Games

Filed under: Thoughts and Rants — Tom B @ 10:02 am

Last night’s South Florida IGDA meeting brought something to mind….the presenter was Derek Smart. He is a member of the board of the local chapter and has been an independent game developer since the mid 80’s. A real old schooler to be sure. Derek has a niche game known as Battlecruiser…now going by the name Universal Combat. He did a post mortem on his latest release and then we retired to a local bar for a Gold Party to celebrate the release. Among those in attendance was a group from the local Art Institute who are just starting out with a team that wants to do games. It was great to see Derek taking the time to interact with these rookies and, like I said, it brought something that I think about from time to time to my attention. Indie Games.

Not what they are or even if they are a viable path into the big time, but how they are viewed and where they are going. Publishers are spending more and more on top tier titles and they are very disinclined to risk capital. So, movie licenses and sequels are the menu and in house studios are the production model…at least for the most part. If an independent studio is really good, they sell out and become employees. (e.g., the DICE /EA deal). Educational institutions are moving toward becoming assembly lines to feed the “churn em and burn em” mentality of these corporate game factories and innovation and creativity are the most likely victim of the success of the game industry.

So, what does this have to do with Indie Games you ask? Well I’ll tell you…Indie Games are the last best hope for creativity and innovation in the industry. The magic of cewl gameplay means little in the world where corporate marketing departments make design decisions. And those of us who actually care about games as a progressive commercial art form (similar to films) really need to step up and find ways to facilitate this process. We need a coherent Indie Games subculture just like the film industry has. Juried shows that are attended by publishers, digital distributors and the press. We need to elevate the perception of games as art, rather than games as toys! Now there’s a project worth pursuing!

Hmmmm…how about this - Games-Florida proudly presents the Miami Winter Games Festival……

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