directed by Lisanne Pajot & Jame Swirsky
I must admit that I have only a working knowledge of the indie game world, with my tastes leaning toward classic games like Frogger, Donkey Kong and even Castlevania, but it certainly didn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying this geeky knockout of a doc. Modern gaming left me in the dust years ago, which is probably why I found the artistry and motivations of this doc's talented young video game designers so refreshing and relatable. The designers featured in Indie Game aren’t concerned with heaping graphics upon graphics to create a spectacle of gluttonous bit counts. For these artists, the video game medium is prismatic canvas in which they attempt to convey a view of the world as they perceive it. I was only familiar with Fez before watching this doc, the tragic string of disasters, setbacks and misfortunes that befell Phil Fish, but the stories of Braid developer Jonathan Blow and Super Meat Boy team Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes are at once familiar and universal. Art is a nebulous and subjective concept, but at the core of all art is an artist whose goal is to create a shared experience, to conjure a response from those who choose to experience that which the artist has created. And how refreshing it was to hear artists speaking honestly about how much they wanted people to enjoy their works! It typically seems to manifest in musicians, but it always bugs me when artists say they couldn’t care less about whether or not people like their art. If you don’t give a shit, then why put it out there for people to experience and (inevitably, for it is our nature) judge? Of course you want people to like it, to be affected by it. Otherwise, you would have simply created it for yourself and could have cared less about presenting it to the world. Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky are meticulous talents behind the camera, and the result is a visually lovely doc that explores art and gaming from an earnest and vulnerable place. I was rooting for these guys all the way through, and you will too. I’m actually kind of bummed this film hasn’t received more love, particularly of the Academy variety.