Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Indie Game: The Movie

James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot's insight into the independent video gaming market is an astonishing documentary for reasons which transcend the industry which it highlights. Following the trials and tribulations in the development cycle of two of the highest profile independently released games on the market of the last couple of years; Fez and Super Meat Boy - both exclusive to the XBox360, meaning a PS3 devotee like yours truly unfortunately hasn't had the chance to fully appreciate what's on offer. Nevertheless it doesn't dampen the almost life-affirming appreciation for the developers of the games and the core values they represent.

The film largely follows two reasonably different creative processes which in essence represent the same self doubts and mini victories all artists go through when crafting something entirely from scratch. If you're a traditional artist, writer, musician or film-maker there is countless qualities about the journeys which Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Super Meat Boy and Phil Fish and Renaud Bedard of Fez go through towards the completion of their respective games you'll find incredibly relatable. It also gives cynics of the industry confirmation, which many devotees already know, that computer games can be a hugely expressive art-form in itself. Not something to be looked down upon nor scoffed at.

The moments involving McMillen and particularly Refenes were the most emotional; a true mixture of profound joy, frustration and even at times soul destroying sadness. While they were both burdened with a playful anticipation from the gaming community on the internet, Phil Fish was faced with something far more intimidating. After wowing audiences in 2007 with a simple tech demo, the level of expectation placed upon Fish's shoulders transcended into this seemingly never-ending and unbelievably ambitious quest met with delays and frustration to the point where Fish was verbally abused across the net.

Similar to watching the brilliant Banksy documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop based around the street art movement, the mentality of these men and their like-minded peers was almost a form of creative rebellion. A huge middle finger to the mass gaming market constantly obsessed with this summer blockbuster arrogance of bigger is better, sacrificing innovation and compelling story telling for a points based first person shooter online gaming culture ala Modern Warfare.

As well as being hugely enlightening the film-making itself is of the highest quality. The crisp presentation, the in-game highlights, the absolutely gorgeous camera work makes the film one of the true stand outs of the year. More so the dark, moody, beautifully ambient soundtrack by Jim Guthrie is probably worth seeking out on its own.

Final Thoughts
Provocative, inspirational and profoundly emotional. Indie Game: The Movie is more than a simple documentary on the gaming industry, it highlights the emotions all independent creatives suffer through for their art. If you write, draw, compose music, create comics there is a quality about this film which will speak to you on numerous levels. And may also leave you believing in what you're doing.


Indie Game The Movie is available to buy from here :: http://buy.indiegamethemovie.com/

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