Of Video Games & Art

Indie Game: The Movie (2012) by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot

Phil Fish – Creator of ‘Fez’

I am not a big gamer, nor a computer-programming expert. The potential of videogames to be like canvas is something that I assumed might be possible, but didn’t know. Without glamour or arty obscurity, this crowd-funded Canadian documentary on three indie videogame programmers perfectly uncovers the artistic expression behind a videogame.

Whilst giving a brilliant introduction into the history and the dynamics of the indie gaming scene, the film focuses on the personal accounts of the underdog videogame developers Phil Fish [FEZ, 2008], Jonathan Blow [Braid, 2008], and Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes [Super Meat Boy, 2010]. It quickly becomes a poignant documentation of the hardships of creating games independently under the pressure of a multi-million dollar industry. For the art in the gaming, the developers explain in the most comprehensive way, how videogames are constructed and where the artistic input of the makers comes in. Going over the different methods of self-expression and the moral and philosophical principles of game making, these guys, perceived conventionally as ‘nerds’, reveal themselves as true artists in their visions. It becomes clear that they are dedicated to immerse their players into a world that goes beyond the entertainment value of pressing a few buttons.

Anyone who supports the plead of videogaming to become a recognised art form, will have sympathies for those artists sacrificing their lives to lift their craft to new heights, while dealing with a profit seeking industry.

The film won the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award at Sundance in 2012. It can be streamed here for gaming experts and amateurs alike.

Not ready to commit? Watch the trailer here

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