Fascinating 'Indie Game' gets into heads of video-game developers
A movie review of "Indie Game: The Movie," a fascinating documentary about independent video-game developers — young guys tapping at keyboards in lonely rooms creating works of art.
Special to The Seattle Times
'Indie Game: The Movie,' with Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish. Directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky. 96 minutes. Not rated; contains profanity. SIFF Cinema at the Film Center.
They're works of art. They're windows onto the psychology of their creators. They're video games.
We're not talking about massively popular shooter games like "Call of Duty," corporate products of squadrons of developers and programmers. Rather, in "Indie Game: The Movie," they're independently developed video games with names like "Super Meat Boy" and "Fez" and "Braid," created by one or two young guys tapping at keyboards in lonely rooms.
The men whose stories are braided together in this fascinating amalgam of talking-heads interviews and game clips live and breathe video games. As one points out, having been born in the 1970s, he's never known a world in which video games did not exist. Phil Fish, designer of the long-in-gestation game Fez, said he knew he wanted to be a game designer from age 4.
All emphasize that for them video games are an art form through which they express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Jonathan Blow, developer of the well-known game "Braid," says his operational philosophy is, "let me take my deepest flaws and vulnerabilities and put them in a game."
And these guys suffer for their art. Facing deadline pressure to get their games done in time for release dates or unveilings at trade shows, they're consumed by anxieties that make for endless sleepless nights.
Fish is the most tightly wound, admitting that after having spent four years working obsessively on "Fez" he's consumed by doubts. He's been too close to it for too long and can no longer tell whether it's any good or not. Asked by an interviewer what would he do if he couldn't finish it, he says, "I'll kill myself." For Fish and the others in "Indie Game," their efforts to bring forth their visions in pixels certainly feel like life and death struggles.
Soren Andersen: email@example.com