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Indie Game: The Movie is essentially a documentary about tortured genius.  It follows the journeys of three different groups of indie game makers at different stages of their process.  The bulk of the docu follows the two makers of Super Meatboy, one of the most successful XBLA releases of all time, as they approach their release date.  It also follows the journey of the auteur game designer behind Fez, a highly anticipated and much delayed game which eventually came out to critical acclaim but mixed results among gamers.  Finally, the filmmakers intersperse tidbits from interviews with the maker of Braid, one of the first breakthrough hits on Xbox Live, as he explains much of his emotional experience from design to release and ultimate success.

Each of the film’s subjects has unique quirks and issues, hopes and goals, but they share a few key features.  They wield many double edged swords: independence and isolation; sacrifice and potential success; the need for self-expression and the fear of rejection.  These are experiences that most artists can relate to, because art is largely a solitary pursuit, often driven by a desire to connect and communicate with people.  Most art comes from a deeply personal place and it takes great courage to share that with the world.  The results aren’t always what we might hope.

Indie Game is a compelling study of the independent game designer as artist.  It manages to gracefully convey what drives and motivates them, what they hope and fear, how they see themselves and their place in the world of modern gaming.  The film becomes a rich portrait of these artists and I find them tremendously relatable.  Theirs isn’t a circumstance with which I’m personally acquainted but I rejoice with them in the good moments and feel their anxiety in the bad.  I recognize in them my own longing for human connection and validation.  And I applaud the filmmakers for capturing these men’s experiences in such an intimate way.  A


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