I’m a nerd. I’m a gamer. I’m even a loner at times. Sometimes I feel that throwing myself into a virtual world is more entertaining than the real thing and I’m not afraid to admit that. I’ve played World of Warcraft, I love Final Fantasy, and I’ve put in plenty of hours of Call of Duty in. I’ve pretend to be sick for school, so I could stay home all day and play video games. I’ve been to midnight releases. And, I love being around other gamers, nerds, geeks, and what not. They understand me, I’m comfortable around them, and I have more than just a love of games in common with them. Indie Game: The Movie showcases a handful of nerds who just want to make their own games and even though they’re advanced programmers and geniuses with a computer, at the heart of their struggle is the same things I’ve gone through and more.
Indie Game: The Movie follows two sets of game developers- the guys behind Super Meat Boy and the dudes making FEZ, two indie hits that have since become quite the phenomenon in the gaming world. Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen are both programmers who have dabbled in the smallest of flash games and online games all of their lives. Hardcore gamers themselves, they decided to take a chance at their own hit, Super Meat Boy, the followup to a popular flash game made popular on Newgrounds.com. Both have locked themselves away from the world, putting their entire focus on the game, knowing it’s a make or break situation for them. Tommy appears to be the one that’s given up the most as he’s sacrificed his entire social life for the game, knowing that something had to go in order to make this happen. With deadlines, pressure, and expectations biting at their heels, the two work day and night to finish their product. Both men talk about their own personal struggles and admit that if the game were to fail, they’d give hope on almost everything, seeing all of their time, effort, and money go to waste. The other developer is Philip Fish, a man who’s been working on the same game- FEZ, for nearly five years. This guy has given up everything for the game and has been through it all to get where he is. He’s so dedicated to the finishing of FEZ that he states clearly in the film if he was unable to complete it, he’d kill himself.
Both groups of people may sound like basket cases waiting for tragedy, but Indie Game: The Movie makes you sympathize with them, feeling their pain and understanding their dilemmas. They’re incredibly nice guys and extremely hard-working, and you never really question the lengths they will go for their creations. Tommy looks like a shell of a man and you can see the wear and tear the past couple of years have on him. Edmund is the likable geek we all know, with a nerdy wife, a love for bad horror movies, and an enthusiasm about his industry we all have to some extent. Fish is the trickiest of the three as at first he appears to be some mad genius wanting to take over the world, one game at a time. But as the layers of him begin to peel away, we see a man devastated with his own creation, feeling not only obsessed but trapped, knowing that the anticipation he’s built needs to be delivered upon. The way Indie Game plays out is genuine, never making fun of its subjects nor their careers. The documentary does touch upon the actual making of independent video games and the process of creating and promoting them, but the real focus is the men behind the iconic characters, combos, kills, and puzzles.