I’ve honestly always hated the term “Indie”; seeing it used more and more as a common write-off to describe a product or sound that wasn’t the usual humdrum you encounter on a daily basis, or used even more ignorantly to categorize something you don’t understand, or maybe even like. I confess to having done this myself in my younger years, only to be rightfully scolded by a candid friend of mine.
The Indie scene, as seen in all industries, is a place where labors of love and dogged innovation go hand-in-hand. Rarely succeeding in striking them rich, artists take to this incubator to develop something personal, rather than commercial. Although financial success is never promised, this growing avenue is proving more and more lucrative as gamers begin to shift away from the annual shooters and platformers and flock to the Indie scene, where radical new stories infuse stale gameplay mechanics with new life.
Gameloading: Rise of the Indies is actually an indie project in of itself, having been funded through Kickstarter and produced by just a few people. Calling upon individuals from multiple independent studios, Gameloading is an uplifting look into the rapidly expanding independent gaming industry and the lives of those who brave its obstacles.
One of the more important statements made in Gameloading is that the indie scene has been rather dormant since the early 80’s. From then, right up to the mid-2000’s, gaming has been dominated by bigger studios and large publishers, making it difficult for anyone outside of that bubble to get onto a platform without backing and approval. It’s only thanks to the inception and subsequent explosion of digital distribution that has allowed anyone to make a game and sell it in a competitive market.
One of the questions asked of those interviewed is whether a game should be fun, but the answer generally seems to be that a game should be entertaining and explorative on some level, be it subtle or blatant. A game could cover some very mature themes like depression, divorce, or suicide, but the experience of them can provide entertainment. You see this philosophy applied to titles like Depression Quest, The Stanley Parable, and Analogue: A Hate Story. Indie games like these come from some intense personal experience, and reflect much of the developer’s inner turmoil rather beautifully.
Those that spoke of harassment in the industry haven’t decided to abandon their quest altogether, but instead try to counter the attacks and make the community a much healthier and safer place for the future generations that will be making games and travelling the world to promote them. This is perhaps the strongest message of the entire film, backing up the lesson that anyone can make a game and all are welcome in this community of digital expression.
While there’s no question the games industry has continued to expand and explode on the international level, Gameloading: Rise of the Indies is a refreshing reminder that it’s also growing in a more intimate way as well. Despite the hurdles of self-promotion and the occasional Internet abuse, there has never been a better time than now for the indie scene to stand on its own and take pride in what they have accomplished.