My Love/Hate Relationship with Indie Games


I recently read an article on IGN about why a lot of people hate indie games. I’ll be honest, I felt a pang of guilt while reading through the piece because I’ve given the scene a share of the illegitimate hate it receives. Colin Moriarty started the discussion by talking about the definition of “indie.” It’s interesting because he’s right about how a lot of gamers call games indie just because it was less than $10 dollars or if it’s only available via PC and PS Vita. Heck, it didn’t matter if it fit the actual definition.

Indie games aren’t really my scene and people always give me crap about it. I don’t hate on it just because it’s an indie game. There are a couple of independent games that I quite enjoyed like The Novelist, Goat Simulator, and Gone Home. However, I noticed that I kept seeing the same type of the game over and over again in the indie scene. It can get boring seeing the same stuff, but it’s not like AAA games are any different (still prettier though tenfold).

I think I’m the only person in this world who did not like Dear Esther and Stanley Parable. I can be a bit kinder to the Stanley Parable because the concept is admittedly original. However, all these point and click games are getting old. I feel like I’m 10-15 years in the past. It feels limited at times and I want to do so much more in video games. How about Gone Home then? I found it interesting but I wasn’t extremely over the moon. You could also argue that Heavy Rain is a glorified “indie” game because it’s like a point and click game except with QTEs. Heavy Rain looked amazing though AND it had a good story so it’s good on my book.

Content is great, but eye candy is pretty amazing too. I’m one of those gamers who would love to see photorealistic graphics in the future. I know that independent studios can’t really compete with AAA games in that department, but that can’t be the excuse all the time. I admire studios that can make this weakness their strength by trying out a radically different art style or what not. It’s a risk that everyone might not like. I might not love it, but I’ll admire the studio’s tenacity to be different. 


I also feel like a lot indie game developers like making games that look retro. A couple of people in the IGN comments section even shared that that’s one of their major barriers. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with games as early as the first Indiana Jones games and I loved it to pieces. I would most certainly play old games in my past in a heartbeat even if the graphics and technology are extremely updated. It seems like a lot of developers are making games just for the sake of being retro as if they are trying to capitalize on the nostalgia of most gamers.  At least Hotline Miami made sense especially since the whole game was inspired by 1980’s pop culture. Admittedly, that’s the first indie game I ever fell in love with. The game was developed by an independent Swedish game developer.

It’s like that movie The Artist that won an Oscar for Best Picture a few years ago. It was a silent and black and white movie and it beat out other modern films! First of all, The Artist was about the time of monochromatic silent movies so it made sense. It’s not like they slapped the retro style in some film with a modern premise and setting like Moneyball. It’s not going to work even if the story is good. I feel like it’s the same for independent video games to a certain degree. There’s a place for retro styled video games, but I just hope that developers would give it justice instead of making another clone of countless other indie games. 

  • What makes a game indie is that it’s made independent of the major game companies. That means they don’t have billions of dollars to throw at production and they have to be creative to make a mark whereas EA can and will sell you the exact same game year after year based on shinier graphics and name recognition. When someone is using their own money to make their dream of being a game developer come true, it’s kind of a shame that people would write them off because they didn’t have the funding to make their game superficially pretty enough.