Friday
Mar092012

GDC 12: Indie Game The Movie Impressions

On Monday night, GDC attendees had the opportunity to get a free screening of Indie Game: The Movie. The film sets to encapsulate the experience of three different indie developers and their struggles they face in their craft of game development. The movie hasn’t seen commercial release yet, but it should be on everyone’s radar. Behind the all of the tropes one would associate with a documentary and their exaggerated portrayals, Indie Game: The Movie sets out to show you every gut wrenching moment and it may just even touch your heart.

IG follows the stories of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Team Meat, Jonathan Blow of Braid fame, and Phil Fish of Polytron Corporation. So while I initially thought this was simply a charismatic documentary displaying the wiles of the quote-unquote “indie developer studio,” or some behind the scenes look towards the games involved, I was instead treated to the reality of creative struggle. The pacing in the cinematography always feels natural as we watch the events unfold and the star cast unravel.

The stories switch off as we learn the aspects and ideals of the talent. The confessions shared within the interviews deliver their intent through such tenderness, and the expressive words never once felt fake. As we traveled through the lives of these developers, the different aspects surrounding their struggles completely bounce off one another, depicting the individual troubles they faced being personally relative to the actual individual. These problems were among many an indie developer could face, but the impact in their portrayal came from us seeing how they affected the specific person.

Phil Fish was faced with moments of uncertainty -- real moments that only became more and more difficult as we were immersed into his world, a world where FEZ will never be quite in reach for release. Edmund and Tommy’s bravado from the onset of the film slowly starts to melt away with fears and anxiety that became more gripping by the second. The perspective shift to the already successful Jonathan Blow for his accomplishing Braid was refreshing in contrast to the hardships of the other two, but the hardship of being successful was an angle that was captured in ways that I could not deny myself against sympathizing for Jonathan as we watched the confusion towards the indifference in his status.

Indie Game: The Movie isn’t all hardship, though. There are plenty of moments in the documentary that will have you laughing and smiling from the charisma, charm, and wit this cast naturally releases. The nuances of programming and politics center around game development are articulately depicted. Terms and processes never lost touch with accessibility to where it would only appeal to a narrow audience demographic. Instead, it works to draw interest in its subject, and demonstrates maturity and commitment behind the industry and culture of video games.

Indie Game: The Movie isn’t about video games -- it’s about the hardship of creative struggle, and what it can do to a person as they travel in their journey to find themselves. This presentation contains concepts that anyone can relate to, and is a poignant film that should be watched by everyone.

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