For the Love of Indie Gaming
Independent "Indie" gaming has been around for quite some time, as have the developers that produce such games. Yet, while they are growing in popularity, they still do not achieve nearly the same recognition that many surely deserve. While carbon copies of the latest first person shooter are pumped out every November, selling millions of dollars’ worth of copies, some of the most innovative Indie games are being overlooked. Unfortunately, this happens for a lot of reasons, the most obvious being that many Indie game developers and their teams do not have a fraction of the marketing budget that big time companies do. A smaller budget also means only having limited release options. Indie developers can generally only release a game digitally on platforms such as Steam because it forgoes the high cost of mass producing discs and box art.
Costs aren't the only reason Indie games don't get the amount of love they deserve. It can be truly hard as a gamer to research and then risk playing a game that we know little about. In the meantime, gamers are inundated with the cinematic flashiness of the next new hot title (We've all experienced cinematic scenes that are drastically different than actual gameplay). With work, school, and numerous other activities that consume our lives, it's natural that many gamers choose to stick to something familiar.
That being said, Indie games are some of the most charming and creative games out there. Many Indie developers are gamers themselves and put their heart and soul into their work. In addition to programming, a game needs quality art and music to be successful. This means that many of these games may have a very small team of programmers, artists, and composers collaborating to create a finished product. A lot of love, time, and effort goes into this creative process, not to mention Never Giving Up.
These developers and their love of gaming have brought us some amazing gems - sometimes inadvertently! The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was never actually intended to be a released game. However, the developers that were working on LoZ: A Link to the Past began working on a separate game in their free time, which inevitably turned out to be what we now know as Link's Awakening. (Fun Fact - It also happens to be the first Zelda game to introduce fishing & cuckoos!) Although Takashi Tezuka had success with the previous three Zelda games, it was due to the developers' dedication to this afterhours project that allowed this game to come to fruition.
Without Indie games we wouldn't have such awesome titles as Bastion, World of Goo, or Minecraft! Since their successes, they have attained big name publishers and have a much stronger foundation of financial support despite originating from a small, Indie team. Understanding the dedication and passion that goes into these games can truly help mold a gamer's appreciation for them. Hopefully it will also encourage gamers to try something different and support some of the greatest pioneers in the industry!
Satoru Iwata, late President of Nintendo, said it best:
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”