Indie Game: The Movie isn't as much about video games and the creating of them, as it is about the creators and what they go through during the process. It delves deep into the minds of four developers the film looks at. It goes almost uncomfortably deep. There are thoughts of murder and of suicide, all whilst these developers spend every waking moment of their lives (and then some) in crunch mode to get their games out to the world.
Indie Game focuses on three developers, Phil Fish who is working on FEZ and Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes who created Super Meat Boy. The very interesting thing is to see each persons motivations behind what they are doing, and how they and their families are dealing with such a demanding job. Everything is on the lines, and these guys are up all night hardly sleeping to get these games done and to satisfy the demanding public. You really get the sense of just how much of their lives these developers have put on the line to work on their dream projects and to not work at a big studio, which as one of them eloquently puts, would be like working in hell. The movie never attempts to glamorize this at all. It shows the events as they happen. It's both depressingly heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.
A section in the film takes a look at Jonathan Blow and his very successful indie game; Braid. He talks about how the release of Braid, and the onslaught of positive reviews was a very negative experience for him. Braid was incredibly successful, and Blow was depressed for months because people just weren't understanding and appreciating the game as he had. A video of rapper Soulja Boy is played where he says how awesome the game is for it's time control mechanics and then goes on to say how they game has no point and you don't really do anything other than jump. You could see how much this hurt Jonathan Blow.
Indie Game manages exceptionally well to capture all of this emotion surrounding these guys. Even when Super Meat Boy is released and it was selling amazingly well, Tommy didn't seem overly happy. The numbers didn't mean anything to him, it wasn't until he saw videos of people playing it, and their reactions that he started to feel good. The bottom line that this film hit on was that, these guys aren't doing all of this work for money. Some creative industries like film and video games sometimes aren't taken as artistically seriously because of the money surrounding them. It really hit home to me personally to see varying perspectives of success and what it means to them personally. It's really quite amazing to see what these people will go through, sleepless nights, months of depression, being extremely anti-social etc. just to get these games out for our enjoyment. The most wonderful thing of all though is that, that's what makes these games at hand so special. When you play Braid you can tell it was lovingly crafted and as gamers we feel more of a connection there than when we play a title like Halo.
Indie Game: The Movie is a really great documentary. It's shot beautifully, and it's edited together very well. The pacing is just perfect. This would even be interesting for people who don't play games, because at it's most basic it's such a human film. Every emotion displayed is something that we can all relate to in some way or another, especially artistic and creative people like myself. But for gamers who have played Super Meat Boy and Braid, this film is a real treat. Being able to see what these people went through to bring you a $10 game that you love is only going to make you appreciate it all the more.
By Brodie Marchant
Indie Game: The Movie
DirectorsLisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
Starring Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish and Edmund McMillen
Length 94 minutes
MMGN movie reviews are rated out of 5 stars