Saturday, April 21, 2012

Indie Game: The Movie

Indie Game: The Movie is about journeys.  More specifically, the journeys of four creators and their struggle to connect with players through their artistic medium, the video game.  The film follows designers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes leading up to and including their release of Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish and the turbulent struggle to maintain awareness at PAX on his game Fez, and the emotional aftermath for Jonathan Blow following his successful release of Braid.  Each creator struggles with his unique problems, but ultimately all of them give us a glimpse inside the creation of an independent game and the emotional dynamics of their creators.  Indie film makers Lisanne Pajo and James Swirsky edited over 80 hours of footage to make a movie that not only shows us why these creators made games, but why people create in the first place.

Edmund McMillen
For me, the following of Phil Fish's legal entanglements and obsession over perfecting Fez, or the misunderstood Jonathan Blow as he argues with favorable reviewers over the intent and message of his best selling game Braid, take a back seat to designer Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes in their development and release of Super Meat Boy.  With Edmund and Tommy we get a look at their lives,  the influences that shaped them, and the loved ones who are both affected by, and supportive of, their dedication.  In exploring these two, the film shows us both the ups and downs as they experience them giving audiences an emotional ride they can connect with.

Tommy Refenes
All of the creators experience the painful results of their dedication with the sacrifice of social lives and the constant seclusion to finish their work.  Although not a pleasant thought, it was inspiring to me at least, in so far as seeing others slave away at all hours to perfect their craft and attempt to accomplish something that lies off the beaten path.  Not only did this film educate me on the game development process (McMillen's idea behind level progression and game mechanics was something I only knew subconsciously through playing games), but it left me with the overwhelming desire to create, despite the perilous journey that may lay ahead in doing so. Indie Game: The Movie manages to show how an individual (or a set of partners) can reach out through an artistic medium and connect with people.

Super Meat Boy

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