Indie Games

This article was published on 03/10/2016.

Normally, video games are made by large companies with hundreds of employees and millions of dollars. That has been the case for a very long time. However, nowadays, many games are created by a small group of individuals, sometimes even by a single person. The recent term of choice to refer to these types of video games is indie games, which basically translates to an independently developed video game. Indie games have been around for quite a while, but have dramatically increased in popularity as of late. Somebody asked me to weigh in on the phenomenon, which led to the eventual creation of this article. My stance on indie games is pretty strange when compared to most gamers. I have a confession to make: I don't like indie games. I almost never play them and they're rarely ever on my radar. This may come as a shock to most of you, but that's the situation at hand. I'll be explaining my reasons below.

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Most indie games go with a retro look, often even sporting retro styled game play. Considering I'm a big retro gamer, you'd think I'd like these types of indie games, but I don't. These indie games go out of their way to mimic the games I grew up with, sometimes right down to the pixel, but at the end of the day, they're still not an actual game made in the past. My nostalgic senses aren't so easily fooled. The only thing these indie retro games do is make me want to play games from my childhood. Essentially, when playing these retrospective indie games, I'm constantly thinking of playing something else. Instead of playing a game that pretends to be old, I could skip the middleman and just straight up play an old game. In other words, I'd rather have the genuine article as opposed to a cheap imitation. The only way I see myself seriously investing time in retro indie games is if I totally run out of actual old games to play. There are plenty of old games I've yet to play that I want to, though, so that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

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Right now, many indie games are roguelikes, and I already wrote an article about how I don't like that genre. In the unlikely event that you haven't heard the term before, a roguelike is a game that has the majority of its content randomly generated by an algorithm. I don't like them because I prefer games to have levels meticulously designed by actual human beings, since I like good level design in my games. As for why so many indie game are roguelikes, especially now, I'm not sure. Maybe it's because creating a roguelike is easier and more cost effective than making other types of games, as much of the content doesn't have to be designed by a real person. Indie developers usually don't have a whole lot of money and manpower, so it makes sense. In a way, a roguelike is like a programmer's wet dream, because once the code is established, a theoretically unlimited amount of content can then be generated. The better the code, the more engaging that content is. A fair amount of indie game developers are comprised of programmers, so perhaps there's a connection. Or maybe it's something else entirely; I have no idea.

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A good chunk of indie games are Metroidvanias. In case you're unaware, Metroidvanias are games that are about exploring vast maps. I kind of like Metroidvanias, but have grown tired of them over the years, so I don't play many anymore. The reason I played Metroidvanias is to bridge the gap between the extremely sporadic releases of real Metroid games. After playing so many Metroidvanias, I started to get burned out on the genre, especially since many of them lacked the brilliant design of a true Metroid game. To me, Metroidvanias are never quite as good as genuine Metroid games developed by Nintendo. Therefore, I made the conscious decision to only play real Metroid games from now on, to prevent myself from developing another case of Metroidvania burnout. Plus, Metroidvanias are very time consuming games, what with the huge maps to explore, and there are more being released than I can handle. Because of those reasons, I generally skip out on any indie game that goes the Metroidvania route, which is almost all of them.

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Quite a lot of indie games are avant-garde, artsy fartsy stuff that I'm not into. A little while back, there was a big argument online about whether video games are art. My opinion on that particular issue is that I don't care, because I have no interest in art. Regardless of whether video games can or can't be art, many indie games try to be art, and since I don't like art, I also tend to not like these artistic games. Artistic games will often challenge the definition of what it means to be a video game, sometimes to the point where they hardly classify as one. I don't know about you, but I prefer my video games to be, y'know, actual video games. As novel as the concept may be, I don't want to play a video game where you have a desk job as an immigration officer. Games like these may be interesting from an artistic perspective, and I'm not saying they serve no purpose in society, but they're definitely not my bag of tea. I liken these sorts of games to highly experimental music; some people like that kind of music, but for others, it's just noise.

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This article may make me seem like I'm being a contrarian for the mere sake of being a contrarian, but it's the truth. I'm like, one of the only gamers in the world who doesn't like indie games. That puts me at odds with almost everyone out there. Being a retro gamer already makes me niche, but being a retro gamer that dislikes indie games makes me ultra niche. Conceptually, I have nothing against them; they just don't interest me for the above reasons. There are occasional exceptions, of course, but they're very occasional.

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