In its purest form, the indie – independent – ‘maker’ is a person that is focused on fully realising a personal creative goal, influenced by their interests and fuelled by self-motivation. The way in which people achieve these things is with an ‘I’m going to do it’ determination. Their creations flourish with individuality and personality – it is an extension of them and is something of an attractive characteristic that resonates with the audience.
Along with a unique identity, the games also contain an original experience. Fashionably, in recent times and as an example of the ‘rise of the indie’, I think people are more warmed to the idea of something like games or handcrafted goods having been created on a smaller, possibly more sincere scale.
Whether the ‘indie’ be a solo operator or part of a small team, the amount of concentration and dedication is of a heightened degree compared to that of larger studios (supported by publishers). Everything is at stake, all the chips are in, it’s a do-or-die situation. A modern way to look at the indie set up is much like a start-up or kickstarter.
I recently watched Indie Game: The Movie which showed the blood, sweat and tears that went into the breakthrough titles of Fez, Super Meat Boy and Braid. People’s livelihoods were on the line; it wasn’t just about artistic integrity.
The E3 2012 games expo was full of shooters, photo realistic games with enormous budgets. It feels like the mainstream has become almost static, we’re seeing the same ideas sugar coated in the hope of a repeated success. In that world at the end of the day, games are a commodity to be sold through popularity and to make the publishers a profit. Timelines and budgets can (and do) affect the ideas. That’s not to say that there isn’t innovation and fresh thinking coming through in the mainstream, but those moments of ‘new’ feel few and far between.
Let’s move away from the games industry and look at the creative industries as one large general entity now. In a world saturated in big ideas with big budgets to back them up, what can we as ‘creatives’ take from the humble approach of the independent creator? How can the indie mentality influence the way we approach design, starting tomorrow?
I feel that from the perspective of an individual, if you have an idea that you really believe in, you should do whatever it takes to make it happen. If you’re going to make your mark on the world, make sure you do it doing something you love.
On a larger scale, maybe we should be looking at how we handle the ideas process, how we harness moments of inspiration. Is there something lost in translation from the initial spark to the final production? Or is the very nature of the agency beast too large to allow for the micro-focused approach of an indie?
Will Aslett is a digital creative at MRM Meteorite. You can find him on Twitter, @willaslettdraws, or on his website www.willaslettdraws.com