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Indie Game: The Movie Review


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Genre: ,
Director: ,
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Actor: , , ,
Length: 94 minutes
Release Date: 20 January 2012
Story Line: Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary that follows the development of 3 games by 3 independent developers.
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Final Fiendish Findings?

This is a polished look at 3 independent game developers coping with their process of trying to get their labors of love to their fans. It’s a compelling look at interesting people without alienating appeal from general audiences.

Posted October 15, 2012 by

Full Fiendish Findings?

Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary that follows the fate of 3 independent game developers as they agonize on their successes and failures of their 3 games in 3 different phases of the game cycle. I can’t emphasize three enough since they are very unique people creating their own unique and individual games.

You have Braid, developed by Jonathan Blow, who has already been a critical and commercial success; Super Meat Boy, developed by Team Meat consisting of Edmund McMillan and Tommy Refenes, that is on the verge of its anticipated release; and Fez, developed by Phil Fish, trying to make it to it’s first public showing at PAX.

The movie tries its best to make its story and content accessible to the average viewer and, while it’s difficult for me to alienate myself from a more technical viewer, I think it does achieve that goal. It focuses more on these people behind the games rather than the games themselves or the process to create them.

You see a lot of their passion for getting these games out. Indie games are made, in many cases, by individuals or small groups and they don’t typically have the backing of a major corporation to bring these games to the public. You see them as they struggle financially to get their labor of love into the hands of fans. You see them as their egos get damaged when they read the reviews.

Most of the people profiled do come across as likable, but as I said, they have very differing personalities. Jonathan seems the most professional and composed, but he still explains the parts he had difficulty coping with. He discusses how he got a bad reputation for being an internet watch dog for his game on the internet whenever his game was portrayed in a way that he felt was not fair or justified. I can imagine it’s hard to see years of your work picked apart and how difficult it would be to not take that personally.

Edmund seems like a very good natured, easy going artistic type even if he’s a bit more crass than some of the others. It was interesting how he tied in his story about it being a lifelong dream and how some of his early childhood ideas managed to make their ways into some of his other creations.

Edmund’s technical half, Tommy, seems like the most emotional person on the group. He seems to live and die with each ebb and flow of the whole process. Edmund and Tommy seem an odd pair for that alone. Edmund seems to be more of a watershed type person while Tommy is very much a heart on his sleeve type. Maybe that’s what makes them a good team. The only odd part in the movie was that, even though they were the only team in the movie, very few scenes showed them together. The scenes that they were together seemed to be dominated by Edmund’s personality. Perhaps that was the reason for this.

If there is going to be someone you don’t like in the group, it’s easily going to be Phil. Phil does come across as having an ego. He had a falling out with his previous partner and spends much of the movie frustrated and angry about where that leaves him and the game. There is one point in the movie where he says if the game fails, he will kill himself. It’s difficult with the editing if that statement was tongue in cheek or if he really is that frail of a person. It isn’t covered in the movie, but Fez did become both a commercial and critical success, so fortunately, that wasn’t a question we needed to find out.

Just like the games it is covering, this movie is an independently produced movie. And also like the games it’s covering, this movie competes with the big boys when it comes to content and production quality. There isn’t a moment I think that the editing feels poor or detracts from the story in the least.

The one thing I think could have been expanded on more was the effect this has on the peripheral people. They did cover it a little bit discussing things like what the developers planned to do for their loved ones if their games saw success, but I think it would have been interesting to get their perspectives a bit more. This process consumes large portions of their life and is bound to have collateral damage. I think that would have been interesting to see more of those stories as well.

Indie Game: The Movie should appeal to anyone who likes interesting characters talking about their obsessions. This is less a story about games and could easily be the stories of any entrepreneurs. Don’t be turned off by the title or pigeonhole this as being that type of movie. While at its heart, that’s the venue it’s covering, it really uncovers the people as individuals instead of gearing it to a narrow audience. For that reason, I liked this movie a lot. While I personally wouldn’t have minded a more focused, I’m glad the directors decided to put forth a more generally approachable film.


I've been a game enthusiast since my 2600 enjoying RPG, platformer and adventure games. Also a film buff who enjoys quirky, indie films and a huge Hitchcock fan.