As a Designer who has been working in games for a while now I am always looking at ways to expand my knowledge base. Initially I believed the best way to do this was to play as many games as possible. Whether it be the latest XBox or Playstation blockbuster or a 69p app on my phone there is always something to take from the game, even if it’s how not to do things.
Over the past year or so however I’ve made a conscious effort to focus on other sources of knowledge and inspiration and have found myself reading a number of fantastic books and listening to a variety of podcasts (some of which I will recommend some time soon!). However, one of the things that has inspired me most was a different medium altogether – Indie Game: The Movie.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign and much anticipation from the games industry, Indie Game: The Movie came out in mid 2012 to a mixture of reviews. The documentary followed the struggles of indie game developers as they worked on and released (or in some cases delayed) their games. Specifically the movie focuses on Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes as they developed Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish and his game Fez and Jonathan Blow who talked about his game Braid.
Now I am not going to sit here and say it is a fantastic film and that everybody should see it. I won’t even say it gives a perfect insight into the indie game industry as so many seasoned pros have come out to say that it isn’t. My aim here isn’t to review the film but more to stress how important it was to me and my development as a Designer. What I will say however is that I will always look at it as a turning point for me and a huge source of inspiration. There are a lot of things I do differently now that I did not do before and ways of working and thinking that I may not have considered without watching it. From the section where Ed discusses game mechanics and how to introduce them into a game step by step to the different way each team interacted and worked together (specifically the ability to work remotely), there was so much to take from the film.
Ok so the movie is a little too long and by the end of it you feel like giving Phil Fish a big slap with a wet kipper but it is worth a watch for anyone who has a remote interest in game development and gaming as a whole.
I actually arranged a screening of the film at the agency I was working at at the time and I’m pleased to say it made a big impact on a lot of us. It has gone on to influence the way we worked as a team and how I work to this day.
Why not check it out next time you can’t choose what to watch?