Indie Game: The Movie is about independent game development, but not nearly as directly as I thought it would be. IGTM is really about the stories of three indie game developers, the creation process, and the feelings that go along with the successes and failures along the way.
The stories are framed with a bit of an introduction to the state of indie gaming, but it breaks away from that sort of history-by-interview snippet style that so many documentaries opt for. IGTM pretty quickly jumps into the stories of the developers behind Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid.
The designers and developers behind these games — one, two, and three person teams — talk about the reasons they do what they do, the frustrations they feel, the pressure, the fears, and the way their successes bring them meaning. I know some of those feelings, and hearing their stories is inspirational. It’s like a pep talk from a kindred spirit.
Jonathan Blow reflects on his experience developing Braid, since it was released a number of years ago. I found myself connecting with less of his segments, I think because his perspective is post-success. The others, fully engrossed in their own game’s development during the course of the movie, were far more interesting.
Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes made Super Meat Boy, and IGTM tracks their work in the seven months leading up to their game’s release on XBOX Live. Phil Fish, on the other hand, is profiled as Fez‘s development time reaches into its fourth year without a set release date. The contrast between developers experiencing their launch and another struggling to reach that point resonated with me. I’ve been in both positions, albeit on a bit of a smaller scale than theirs.
I enjoy documentaries, and this is indeed a good one. But on top of recommending it as a good movie, I’d like to recommend it to the creatives, entrepreneurs, and independents that I know. This movie inspired and, in a way, motivated me. If you could do with a dose of inspiration yourself, then go watch this movie now.