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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Oct 14: Indie Game: The Movie


Oct 14: Indie Game: The Movie

"A documentary that follows the journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world."
Directed by: James Swirsky & Lisanne Pajot, Rated: NR, 94 minutes

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. 

I'll even admit that if I go a few days without shaving, I join the elite class of Neckbeards, like Edmund here. 

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 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. 

A scene where Edmund discusses one of his first games, Aether, is actually hard to watch, as the man put so much into it. 

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. 
Never has a block of meat looked so cute (and fun to play!)

I would highly recommend Indie Game: The Movie. It's really one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time and really makes you appreciate the work that goes into each and every game we download, buy, or rent. The smallest of creations can sometimes be the greatest and when the market is continually saturated with big-budget, big-studio games that have thousands, we tend to forget about the little guys. Indie Game gives those guys a chance in the spotlight and we see that they're struggling to do what they love. But, in that we have to give them recognition because not all of us would have the commitment to sacrifice so much of our lives to do such a thing. Even if you're not a fan of video games (shame on you!), there's much to appreciate with Indie Game: The Movie and I would highly recommend checking it out as soon as you can. 

The Good:
a look at the development of games... something not a lot of people know about (in comparison to movies)
The Better:
seeing genuinely heart-wrenching (and warming) stories about real guys with real ambition
The Best:
now having an entirely new list of titles I need to play as soon as possible
The Oscar Chances:
Best Documentary (I wish...)

Overall: 8.8/10


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At October 15, 2012 at 7:39 AM , Anonymous Max said...

I bought this the second it was available. It's a fantastic documentary into the commitment and sacrifice Independent game development entails. I thought it was an ingenious idea to focus on an already successful release, one impending release, and one plagued by development hell that just got recently released.

I highly recommend this doc to anyone interested in game development or fans of Braid, Super Meat Boy, and Fez.

At October 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yes, it's a great movie. Shows a lot of stuff we don't normally see. Glad you liked it as well!

At October 15, 2012 at 5:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really want to see this, especially since my uber-gamer geek son want to be a video game designer when he's older. :-) And why should anybody apologize for throwing themselves into virtual worlds? When I was a kid, back in the day, I lived in books, and my teachers and parents applauded it. I was a geek and a bit of a loner, but hey, I was a *reader.* Now people bash kids (and adults) who game a lot. I don't really see the difference.

At October 15, 2012 at 5:38 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I'm glad to see that you understand the geek of today lol. You make a really good point about reading then and gaming now.

At October 15, 2012 at 6:18 PM , Blogger Andy Watches Movies said...

I was expecting to like this since I like all the games but I was blown away by how well-crafted this one was. One of the best documentaries I've ever seen.

At October 15, 2012 at 6:20 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Indeed it is. Did you review it? Feel free to drop your link, I'd love to read your review.

At October 16, 2012 at 5:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's taken me a while to come around to understanding the geek of today. :-) I used to think video games were rotting my son's brain, and I wanted him reading more books instead. (He does like books -- he just likes gaming more.) I changed my attitude when I made more of an effort to understand his passion. The turning point was when I played a few of his games with him and realized how complex and challenging they were. I am still not a gamer, but I have utmost respect. ;-)

At October 16, 2012 at 9:34 AM , Blogger Nick said...

That's awesome! What games did you play? lol


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