Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary that deals with the struggles and hardships that plague the life of the independent video game developer. The basic premise is that the film crew follows two groups of people and watches them as they go through the hard work and trials associated with trying to get their projects completed.
One pair, that of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, are racing the clock to release their game, Super Meat Boy. The other part of the story involves Phil Fish (and the occasional visit with his comrades in arms) as he attempts to get the long-delayed Fez ready for a gaming expo. In the background are some interviews with Jonathan Blow, famous for his renowned Braid game. All together, these three stories come together to create one of the most compelling documentaries I have ever seen.
The documentary takes place over a period of around seven months. Each group is knee-deep in the development of their respective games but has plenty of work left before they’re finished. Deadlines arrive and the gamers work hard and have to deal with everything that entails. Their social lives and other comforts are sacrificed in the pursuit of their dream. Jonathan Blow’s interviews act as a neutral point, showing what happens after success has arrived via him relating his own experiences.
This film is an emotional ride, the audience being drawn along with the game developers and through all the crap they have to deal with. Their devotion is admirable and you can’t help but feel your own sense of pride when they manage to achieve one goal or another. You get to see some of the people that support or oppose them and find out what really goes into making an independent video game in today’s world of big-name, 1000-man development crews.
Anyone who has an interest in video games or just wants a good human story would be doing themselves a favor by watching Indie Game. There are few documentaries that shine like this one, even if you don’t happen to be a fan of video gaming.