Up until a few years ago, independent or “Indie” games were few and far between. There was always an underground scene, but it was almost like Fight Club. You had to know a guy who knew a guy to get involved. Now, thanks to digital distribution, and movies about them, Indie games are making an impact on the industry.
I was late to the party on Indie games, and the first one I remember playing and loving was Braid. But the music and visuals were so beautiful I did not realize it had not come from a major developer. I only knew it was cheap and I beat it in a couple of hours. As I delved more into the ‘Indie scene’, I saw that the number and creativity of games was mind–boggling.
Large companies that are going to make a game for $100 million are, by nature, risk averse. Also, their overhead in terms of development staff, buildings, marketing costs, etc. etc. etc. means that they cannot spend time and money on a smaller project that is not likely to see a huge return on their investment. Large companies are not going to take a risk on a game about launching birds at pigs. Since Indie teams are smaller and more agile, they can make more creative decisions. They can revolutionize old genres, or they can introduce us to new protagonists and heroes that don’t fall into the same old “thick necked, grizzled, white male” archetype which the maintstream “AAA” industry seems to love so much.
Indie games are a growing force in the industry, which is exiciting because the games that we are now able to find and play can be beautiful, educational, and even moving. Not to mention the fact that they tend to be a lot cheaper than your standard $60 price tag for a big budget game.