Why Are Indie Games Popular? – The Truth

First of all, indie games are my favorite “genre.” I think this is an important cultural phenomenon–and also a fun one–but for argument, let’s scrutinize it. So, Indie games usually have fewer details, less polished graphics, and are often focused on the simpler things, so why are indie games popular? And additionally, I might even ask, are they? I’ve been playing and writing about indie games for a couple of years now and I have seen so many genres and concepts that make the games I used to play seem unnecessarily photorealistic and expensive. Knowing what goes into game development actually helped me realize the simple joys of low-scale projects scattered across Steam and the bizarrely creative ItchIO platforms. I’m going to answer this question, because well, I need to, and it’s an important question.

Reason #1 of Why are Indie Games Popular: They’re Cheaper (Well, they are)

Why Are Indie Games Popular?
Celeste

When I was younger, before Steam and all of that kind of thing, there weren’t even really such things as indie games. You either bought the available Nintendo or Sega games at the store, rented it from Blockbuster or Family Video, or got lucky with a hand-me-down or sometimes demos. These days, you can get 1,000s of games not only cheap but totally free–on every platform! That certainly fuels the desire of many gamers. Because if you are like me, those old days of playing one or two games on repeat, while blissful back then, seem totally dreadful to me now.

The cheapness of indie games does give credit to small developers, but it also gives communities a voice that is getting louder. Trends and fashions come and go, but subcultures and artistic aesthetics take grip in a fiercely creative new generation. These days, owning an indie game, even one that you downloaded, can almost seem symbolic with all kinds of social media outlets to share it–or dare I even say, cool! (That’s right, cool AND affordable.)

But this is all kind of abstract.

Reason #2 of Why Indie Games Are Popular: They’re New

Why Are Indie Games Popular?
Viruaverse

The pandemic took a lot of people into new hobbies and even careers involving new things to spend time at home with. This culturally generated shift has prompted what some content creation historians might consider the last great shift in digital individualism.

You can start a podcast, a blog like this, make a movie, music (without any instruments), or more relevantly, video games. When you play an indie game you’re playing something from a real person or small group of people that you can hop on Twitter with and literally talk to like a next-door neighbor in your DMs. I marvel at such transparency, personally.

Indie games also are prolific in saturating the game market. There are so many new games on a regular basis now that you can be a pixel art warrior in the morning and a digital ski-baller at night, both with a spin on current events and not breaking the bank once again.

Reason #3 of Why Indie Games Are Popular: They’re Unique! Perhaps Even Quirky

Why Are Indie Games Popular?
Donut County

So, yeah, obviously this is the #3 on the list, but number one on the books. Indie games can be totally super-duper weird, and get away with it because there are no board meetings or stocks to trade, it’s all in the mind of the dev. Those of us who are fluent in Reddit speak and general geek-speak know there are some pretty wild subcultures out there, and we’re all for it.

Indie games allow for the type of free speech that free speech is intended for. Not the weird abusive anger you see in the headlines, but the kind where somebody who could never produce a TV show suddenly makes a game about that crazy idea they’ve had for years but couldn’t quite share within the limits of their social network.

Reason #4: They’re just cool, and some additional thoughts

Monster Pub Cheers
Monster Pub

Basically, indie games are just cool. Good art is like that. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling by himself and it’s regarded as perhaps one of the most beautiful masterpieces in history. As such, I really like playing funny games with weird graphics. Not the same at all, but good things can come from the rogue midnight-oil coders of the ambitions of a day-time waitress or a stay-at-home-dad. I have played many great indie games out there, and here are a few:

  1. Celeste
  2. Cryptid Crush
  3. Stardew Valley
  4. Cosmo’s Quickstop
  5. Hades
  6. Hoa

Thanks for reading

These are just some general thoughts I had after spending many days playing indie games and wondering what they had in store for me. It really is a great way to play games and it helped me escape from the lofty polish of more popular games. Games are fun but try something different when you choose your next game, you might like it. If you’re already doing so, keep on playing those indies!

This article was written for MrDavePizza.com by Dave Pizza. Thanks for reading!

Nintendo Switch: The Powerful, Affordable, Portable Console For Playing and Downloading Games

I read a headline today that said that, this holiday season, the Nintendo Switch outsold XBox and Playstation 4-1. The Switch is a nice candidate for such a purchase, since it is about $200 cheaper than the next gen console alternatives, but there are some other advantages as well besides price. Recently, I talked about how the Wii U made me re-enter the world of gaming and this site earlier this year. What a way to go about it too. If you’re what you would consider, a serious gamer, if there is such a thing, the Switch is totally viable. You might not have photorealistic titles like CyberPunk 2077, but you will have really good games that are just as developed and probably a little more unique actually.

Tons of Cheap Games

Switch is the indie game promised land if you like cheap but really unique games. I learned that early. At first, I thought, “hmm, indie games, cheap prices, cheap games,” but I have since changed my mind. Indie games are really fun in concept as well as gameplay. On the Switch store, which I’ll talk about, there’s a little bit of you getting what you pay for, but if you check out the deals which there always are, you might find a gem. I’ve been playing some titles from that list myself with Bastion, a crazy Tom Waits fantasy platformer, or the looks-like-NES skateboarder sidescroller Mastaskata Tchecho. I try something new daily. And it’s great, because with needing to set some of my finances on standby, I can still explore the leading edge of game options on a $299, all-inclusive console. That’s a chunk of change, I know, but it’s actually not that bad if you plan to spend a lot of personal entertainment time with it.

Super Mario Odyssey

When I started MrDavePizza, I spent some time heavily focusing on family friendly games, wholesome ones if you will. I still do that, but I may slip a T-rated title into my blog here and there. That’s okay though, because with my Switch there are so many games that are VERY family friendly AND really cool. Just take any Mario game. Has there ever been a gamer who didn’t grow up on Mario? I know, a blanket statement like that needs evidence, but in the case of most people I know, Mario is the one game almost everybody knows. Even when I brought a Nintendo Wii I’d acquired into a Craigslist shared living situation (avoid at all costs,) we all knew Mario. For some it’s like riding a bicycle, you just pick up where you left and keep playing.

Also, if you are wondering, there is a HUGE inventory of Mario games out there. Many are on Switch, but there are so many that you could probably be set with a console loaded with a handful of titles that are on the eshop.

Okay, here’s the one catch with all of this. I have never played a recent Playstation or XBox console. I have been around them, seen people play them, read tons about their games, but they have always escaped my reach. I know they are good systems. They have a lot more to serve a mature audience too. I’m a little immature though, I guess? And those types of games make my eyes hurt and heart pound. So, that’s why I’ve hung my hat up at the Nintendo console club for most of my life.

The Tech Stuff

Just for clarity’s sake, and this is not too bore you, I don’t generally include technical specifications in my articles, because their intention is about expression more than documentation. Anyway, when you buy a Switch, you get a dock, a tablet, two joycons, and some cables. That’s it. It’s all HDMI and everything fits into place as you should. HEADS UP: When I first inserted the joycons into my dock, I accidentally entered one the wrong way. This is very possible to do if you’re not careful. It is possible to fix, it involves pushing something and pulling the joy con at the same time, but stop and google “joycon stuck” if you make this mistake. A good way to avoid this in the first place is Blue on the Left, Red on the Right, if that’s still not helpful (which it might not be because there are different color joy cons,) the Switch graphic itself actually shows you which side each joycon goes on. The buttons and thumbsticks are inverted on each, as the graphic shows, so you can always look at the logo on the dock itself to know which one.

Aside from that, it’s VERY easy to set up. I do recommend looking at instructions, but if you just utilize some modest patience, you’ll be up in no time. The home screen is not very exciting. Actually nothing will really happen until you insert or download a game from the eshop. You can browse the eshop online and, unlike previous consoles, almost every single game you will ever play can be downloaded from the eshop. It’s kind of the point to it anyway. You’ll need to use a payment method to download the games but it’s simply the best way to get games. Since you need an internet connection for any of this, I won’t bother explaining the necessity of that although you could use the console offline I suppose. I’ve never tried it, or needed a reason to.

A Satisfye Zengrip Pro

Okay, about the controllers. The Joy Cons do work, but I really prefer the Switch Pro Controller (the authentic Nintendo one, the others ones don’t have rumble.) There’s a lot of “opinion” on this subject, but really it’s up to you, and what games you’re going to play. Beyond that, there’s not much to know. Each game uses a different control layout for the controller, but they’re usually pretty similar and intuitive, even on the indie games. There is one exception, Pokemon Cafe, that one you have to use on the tablet. Oh, I guess on that note too, you  can either play games on the TV or the Tablet, and the Tablet has a stand or you can play it with the joycons attached to it. I prefer TV, again a personal choice. If you plan to play handheld a lot or portably, I recommend you invest in a Satisfye Zen Pro Grip available on Amazon. That is not an ad or promotion, it’s simply the only I know of that will actually work without possibly messing up your console with promises of dockability with the grip on (not possible and the Satisfye is a lot more comfortable anyway.)

Final Thoughts

That’s about it. Seeing how I don’t have a Switch Lite I can’t really say too much about it, but I don’t really game in public or away from home much, so it’s not something I’ve tried. It IS an option though, and it can work. You might need to research it first though to make sure, because the TV Dock offers a lot of the same options as the portable one.

That’s my rundown on the Switch. If you have any more questions, let me know, I’d be happy to answer them for you. Leave a comment below, email me at dave@mrdavepizza.com, or DM me on twitter at @MrDavePizza.

Oh yeah, Mario time!