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)
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
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
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
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:
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!