I just finished watching “Indie Game: The Movie” on Netflix streaming. [Warning: there is a lot of swearing. It's not a "family friendly" film.] The documentary chronicles the lives of several indy gamers: the authors of Super Meat Boy, Braid, and Fez. These games went on to enjoy critical success and sold millions of copies, and the film is a fascinating view into the lives of their developers.
It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt while watching this film. I can SO relate to so many things the developers went through… the hours of late night coding, the emotional rollercoaster of wondering whether the game would be well-received once it was (finally) released, the many, many hours coding late into the night, frustrations with software publishers who can spell doom or success for your game with one simple decision, etc. etc.
There are also things I don’t relate to as much. I’m a Christian, and as such I don’t believe in living a life that’s dedicated for several years solely to creating a video game. As such, I never let developing games “consume” me the way these developers did. In all honesty, I’m sure their games were much better for it. But at the same time, my *life* is much better for the way I chose to live it. There is much more to live for than finishing a game. And yet, I totally understand what these authors went through: barely scraping by financially, doing something that, if it fails once it’s released, you’re “done.” No more second try. All or nothing. Throwing all of their passion into a single project. A project that others might hate once it’s released.
I also am not as much a “nerd” as these developers. I’ve always valued living a balanced life: one with meaningful social interaction with friends from my church and family. One with exercise and fun outside of work. Yet again, I’m sure these developer’s games were better as a result. When you can put all your passion, time, and energy into one thing, that one thing has a better shot of being really good… of creating those “wow moments” when a player discovers some of those special touches you threw in.
If you aren’t an indy game developer, and you would like a look into the life of an indy developer and the rollercoaster ride it can be, and a lot of swearing doesn’t bother you, I recommend “Indie Game: The Movie.” It describes much of my life when I was a full-time indy game developer far better than I ever could.