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The Independent Games Movement Essay

1588 words - 6 pages

For any fan of video games today, they may have realized a certain breed of game that has risen to prevalence over the years after a large period of time languishing in the “underground” of conventional games development. These games have become more prominent due to the fan bases which support them, and also due to the constant attention from mainstream gaming media and larger gaming companies. These are independent games - games that are created without the boon of a publisher’s funding. Usually crafted by smaller teams of designers, artists and programmers, the independent gaming movement is looked upon as the “punk era of gaming culture” (as explained by indie developer, Rami Ismail). These “indie” games aren’t conforming to certain trends in the big leagues of game development, and sometimes they’re made for either pure fun, the sake of delivering a message through the gaming medium, or whatever purpose the developer chooses to create their game for.

It’s exactly hard to pinpoint when the movement directly began, as there was no smoking gun which led to its creation. However, the assumption is that the origins can be traced back to the 1970s, even before there was an established video game industry. Early indie games were created by programmers, and were distributed among friends as shareware (during the very early days of the Internet) in the 1990s. However, in contrast to the many opportunities which lie in wait for prospective indie developers, the opportunity to publish a game became more difficult as the industry grew. Console manufacturers weren’t looking for garage developers to put their works on their systems, because they didn’t look like they meant business (no real company), and judging by their place as smaller developers, they wouldn’t even have the money to license development kits which the big game companies used for their teams. Furthermore, publishers would rarely give their services to smaller developers, which almost effectively shut them out of the console gaming space.

Those were three nails in the coffin for budding independent developers, but there was another way to succeed. The personal computer became even more popular as the new millenium began, so many projects kept themselves exclusive to computers, which allowed them to find fans who would appreciate their work if the big console makers were turning a blind eye to them. Over time, more resources began to open up to the developers - blogs that would promote their material (IndieStatik.com, IndieGames.com), contests where they would put up their skills against others (Ludum Dare), celebrations of their achievement (Independent Games Festival Awards) and a wide variety of forums where they would converse and share work with others. What also gave independent developers a huge push was the advent of software which would allow them to create games. Game engines such as Unity, Stencyl, Game Maker, Construct 2, and Adobe Flash have helped budding developers get...

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