Rise of the Indies

‘GameLoading, Rise of the Indies’ is pretty much the same documentary than ‘Indie Game'(2012) but with much less Phil Fish (gladly). It is like a totally unrelated sequel, because the argument is totally the same. In 92 minutes we will be transported to several parts of the world to find out just what is ‘indie videogames scene’, what their motivations are, where do they came from, and finally… what do they really want.

DIRECTOR: Anna Brady / Lester Francois

Rise of the Indies

Anna Brady and Lester Francois managed to build a story through the indie developers monologue, mainly focusing on ‘The Stanley Parable’ devs, Davey Wreden, William Pugh and Robin Arnott –the sound editor- who as such, was developing the super original ‘SoundSelf” an introspective sound game. It also lends a lot of attention to dutch developer, Rami Ismail, of Vlambeer, which offers good insights on being an already established indie.

The filming doesn’t get too much in the way. It really feels the developers meant every word they are saying and is the biggest asset of the documentary that usually are a load of crap edited to trespass a certain vision to the audience.

There are quite a bunch of interviews, and it must have taken a lot of work to put this documentary together. For that only, my plaudits.

THE ARGUMENT

As we stated earlier with our own Indie World Analysis, the documentary presents the idea that, even when a lot of triple A games are cool and so well done, the future, the real plausible future, is Indie. Indie, as a counterculture, a poised movement willing to change the way that games get done. And it is. Indie is where sickest, wildest dreams (I’m not talking of lolicon, you ugly bastard) can come true, because internet made it available. This is where paradigms shift. You don’t need a publisher but yourself. You don’t need a marketer but yourself.

In an interesting passage of the film, we could see, the Australian developer, Trent Kusters, designer of ‘Armello’, feeling what is like to be a very tiny indie developer in a world of sharks like the PAX is. The poor guy didn’t have a place to show his work –which is awesome- until someone had compassion and offer him a spot on an empty square. Kusters is all of us (yes, I am too part of that vicious industry). He is the actual indie developer giving it all for his dream. A true worker, showing his game in his tablet to passersby. That’s indie. That’s counterculture.

On the other side, we have developers that mean well but haven’t their ideas so evolved beyond the gaming part (actually no, but keep reading).  Christine Love, the developer of the visual novel: ‘Analogue: A Hate Story’, and Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), give fair (and needful) speeches of being a woman in this industry. They are absolutely right, being a woman in gaming sucks. Much of your colleagues hate you and most of your costumers too. The problem is bigger actually. Video-gaming –at least at a social interactive side- is conformed of white teen males (nerds) that hate everyone beyond themselves. Black people, fat people, Muslim people, foreign people, and yes, girls and women are ostracized, disliked, insulted, and even, being threatened by these bunch of moronic assholes. This is the only mistake I find in the edition of the documentary… why the only ones complaining are the two girls which, as an addition, have punk attitude? That shows every little thing that is wrong here. A lot of people gets discriminated, and filmmakers decide to show only the ones that would get all of the backlash from the regular gaming society: girls with dyed hair and punky attitude that developed poor videogames. They even show the sticker on Christine notebook that says: ‘This computer kills fascists’. That’s an editing decision that doesn’t help the matter because we, as a society, categorize, and what the documentary shows, is the ones complaining, are probably attention seekers (they are not!).

This is what’s wrong. There are other girls in the documentary, like Auerya Harvin (from ‘Tale of Tales’ and ‘Luxuria Superbia’) and Ashley Zeldin (Adorkable). They aren’t showed complaining because they were edited out or the filmmakers never asked them if they felt discrimination. This is supposed to be a documentary that offers a good light on indie developers, and much of them are part of the problem too.

THE SUBJECT OF ANALYSIS

Let’s state this: the documentary is ok even when it’s more a promotional cut on indie industry (indiestry? Called it!). The only outside vision we are offered is the one of John Romero and other dev of ID Software, and of course, is all about praise to the indies. No one is willing to provide at a full spectrum the issues of being an indie developer. Yes, there’s some insight at a couple of issues (‘I get embarrassed at conventions’, ‘Triple A use their money to buy all the space in the events’ and such…) but nothing on the real problem behind it:

Resignation.

You’ll see, this is a Kickstarter funded documentary, and while they went places like England, Netherlands, Canada, and several parts of the US like Chicago, Texas, Boston and Seattle, they didn’t go to several places like South America, where a large part of post teen society embraces the health career of indie gaming. Now, what happens when an industry is overflown? It just breaks. And there’s the main situation with indie. Is overflown. The access is right there like is said by many of the developers: Unity, GameMaker, RPGMaker –and now, even Unreal Engine- and internet of course which acts as a publisher. The question changes from ‘Who here is a game maker?’ to ‘Who here is NOT a game maker?’ With the amount of games over there for us to grab… how can any of these undiscovered geniuses end in our digital libraries?

Via Steam… maybe? Not so counterculture, right?

That’s where we are getting it all wrong. Is no counterculture or revolution… is the same old plain American dream. But for geeks.

CONCLUSION

Overall is a good piece of testimony, with tons of statements of developers that really believe that they are there, in the trenches solely for the art. I think that an honest artist should be aware that creation comes with hunger, but only when you know that that hunger is going to be terminated. There’s no way of succeeding if you can’t pay the rent, or put food in your mouth. Almost every developer on the film is young, in their twenties, with probably no other concern in life than checking followers on Twitter. And that’s ok; the ground for them is cemented by the labor of people like Don Daglow… who is no indie developer.

I would really have loved to see more of the inner struggles of the indie industry. The insights of Love and Quinn where right on the spot. Sadly, the decision taken by the filmmakers does not help really, and I could even say it hurts what devs like them are trying to accomplish.

I think that ‘Kids Meet Code’, ‘Code Liberation’ and ‘Code.Org’ deserve a documentary on their own and I’m looking forward to watch it. It introduce me to a world I wasn’t quite aware, but I’m glad it exists. Videogaming industry needs to fight its own demons, born on the perverted relationship between our internet generation nerds and the need of the postmodern society to categorize, when it should be the other way around. It seems that we are going backwards.

Indiestry has received the cards of this virtual Poker and is playing mostly against itself. It has to take a decision. To be like the ones in the other table or to take the risk.

It’s all in.

‘GameLoading: Rise of the Indies’ can be bought here.

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Hernán started his journey in the gaming world in the year 1991 with his Family Game (the FAMICOM made in China). Later on, he made the pass to Sega Genesis that would be combined with a PC 486 won over a contest. In the year 2000 he got around a more powerful computer (64 mb Nvidia Board!) which led him to madness with games as first “Hitman”, Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid and Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed.

Today, he is the proud owner of a more powerful PC (no that much power though), an XBox 360, a Wii, a PSOne, a Sega Genesis, a PSP, and a Nintendo DS.

While gaming, he developed a passion for writing that led him through a couple of webs (NintendoLatino.com) and a couple of magazines. He is also a writer in an online cinema magazine called “Revista 24 Cuadros”.

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