Sunday, July 1, 2012

Indie Game: The Movie (A-)

Other than maybe in my tweens, never in my life have I considered myself to be a huge fan of video games. Sure, certain games such as Yoshi's Island and the Mario Party and Pokemon will always bring back happy nostalgic memories, which I'm always grateful for, but not once have I obsessed over an existing game, or watched G4 in mad anticipation for an upcoming one. It's not that I dislike video games in general; even less nostalgic programmed diversions such as Call of Duty or Ratchet & Clank still provide enjoyable entertainment, and could, if on an extremely dull day, be played endlessly. From my own personal experience, they're usually engrossing for a couple of hours or even days, but as time gradually passes, so does the enjoyment. Unless you have an almost unhealthy love for the game, or an aspiring designer studying how it works, it's difficult to imagine playing the same thing for an extended period. However, as I watched the captivating documentary by first time joint directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, Indie Game: The Movie, I realized that perhaps my opinions toward video games have been incorrect the entire time. 

The doc focuses on three separate independent game designers as they reflect on the processes, and sacrifices, involved in developing these complex operations almost entirely alone. Like the ancient samurai of old, these brave men are willing to squander their entire existence to perfect their craft of game engineering, while obeying the aggressive demands of both business partners and cruel online "fans". Though the film also serves as a delicious piece of geek porn for those interested in seeing the video games themselves while still in development, the two directors make the excellent choice to focus on the men behind the games, rather than the games themselves. They're choosing to, in great detail, examine the samurai and his cause, instead of broadly showing multiple samurais fighting.
What ensues is a compelling, thought provoking tale of the successes and failures involved in following your dreams without a safety net. Suspenseful and, at certain points, fairly intense, more credit goes to the film's duo directors for engrossing the audience in a story we already know the ending to. Indie Game: The Movie is an almost masterfully crafting directorial debut that makes me curious to see what subject matter these documentarians capture next. When the film inevitably comes to G4 later this year, check it out. This is a film that, if a large enough audience was reached, could far exceed its indie ambitions and become as popular as the video games featured.
Grade: A-

1 comment:

  1. I really want to see this movie. I am not a gamer myself, but my husband and son game obsessively -- and my son hopes to learn to design and program games someday. This is the second positive review I've read of this film -- I'm looking forward to watching it.

    Excellent review, by the way. I especially liked this line:

    What ensues is a compelling, thought provoking tale of the successes and failures involved in following your dreams without a safety net.