drwex (drwex) wrote,

I saw "Indie Game: The Movie" and it was a lesson on pursuing your dream

(I've seen a remarkable number of movies for me lately; I'll try to keep the reviews short so I can get through all of them.)

Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary about four main developers working on three indie games as they struggle to get their works completed, either for release or for demonstration. I went into it expecting it to be something about game design or development, but really it's a piece bearing witness to the idea that "you should quit your job and follow your dream" is a perilous path. (3/5 stars)

All four of these people are (obsessively) pursuing their dreams. They're making no money, losing friends and marriages, and enduring at a minimum disbelief and scorn from the public as their game releases drag out and take longer than expected. The documentary keeps us in suspense until the end about whether any of the games will make it. That worked for me because I don't know indie games and didn't recognize the titles; if you know the games' history it might be a foretold conclusion.

Either way the movie really is about the people and their personal struggles, not about game development. They could have been craft micro-brewers or unknown writers or really any other lonely hard-working penurious individuals. In that sense, I felt the movie was something of a let-down. Though I did end up caring (mostly) about the people and wanting them to be successful, I also wanted to learn something about indie game development other than "geezus working years on a labor of love you really care about that nobody else can understand is hard and lonely and destructive."

I also could not help but notice that the chosen game developers were all young white males. While I have no doubt that's the majority of the population involved in this, my experiences at Arisia (which had an indie game expo last year and will again this year) as well as at other cons shows that there are indie-game makers of different genders, skin colors, and so on. Given that the film could only focus on a few individuals it would have been nice to see something of how these differences, which play very large in the commercial publication game world, play in the indie-game struggle.
Tags: movie, review
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