By PartTimeNinja 1 Comments
The video game industry is an ever-growing industry in this world. Probably no one in the past could've guessed that it would surpassed the movie industry in the amount of money each made. But there is a lot more underneath. Your average consumer will think that all that gaming consists of is big titles like “Halo” and “Call of Duty. But no, there is a lot more. In my mind, there are three categories that video games fall in: indie games that are free but you can donate to, indie games that you need to buy, and commercial games.
There are plenty of indie games that are available for free on the internet. But you also have the option to donate to the developer so you can help out the developer. A good example of an indie game you can donate to is Jason Rohrer's game “Passage”. “Passage” is a little 5 minute game. But in those 5 minutes, some amazing things happens. Basically, this game is about life. There are so many little symbols throughout the game that point towards a life-like situation. In this game, you control your character (and a wife, if you choose). If you choose to take along the wife, your points as you progress will double. But you won't be able to move in some areas. It is truly a risk and reward situation and shows how being married can be limiting. In the beginning, the right side of the screen is blurry, as in your future is not certain. But as you move through this maze of sorts, you progressively grow older. Once that happen, the right side clears up, but the left side gets blurry, as in you're forgetting your past. Towards the end, if you take the wife, she dies before you do. It is obvious that your old, decrepit, avatar has little time left. Even though the graphics are pixels, the player can tell that he is saddened by his loss.
Now a normal video game player might not think this is any special. But of course it is. There is no video game out in stores that are as moving as this game potentially is. Was I moved? Of course I was! Now here is the sad fact: Jason Rohrer has to work for Cambell's Soup to feed his family. And we pay $60 for a game at a store for the chance that it might be good... but we won't donate $5 to a developer that makes a product that deserves it.
This leads to the second category of games: indie games you have to pay for no matter what. With the growth in digital distribution services (such as Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and Playstation Store), there have been a bunch of indie developers making games for this platform. A good example of this is Jonathan Blow's game “Braid”. During the game's three year developmental period, Jonathan Blow put $200,000 of his own money to make this game happen. Most of the money went to hiring David Hellmen to do the artwork. Good thing that he did, because this game is basically art. Everything has a watercolor-esque look to it. But this game was the first indie game to appear on services such as this. “Braid” was immensely popular and many developers followed in their path. That is probably the most important part of “Braid” is that it proved that you don't need to be a big corporation with a big team to be a success.
Which has us move on to my third category: commercial games. These are the games that you go to basically any store and buy from the counter. These are the games you see a twelve-year boy cry to his mommy to get. The absolute prime example for these types of games is Bungie's cash cow “Halo 3”. This is the pinnacle of commercial games. Not because it is any good (because in my opinion it is not). But because it made so much money. According to Giant Bomb's Halo 3 page, “Halo 3 was released on September 25, 2007, and quickly became one of the Xbox 360's first system-sellers, making an astounding $300 million during the first week of its release and going on to eventually sell over 8 million copies.” What confuses me is that this game has diminished in quality compared to the games before it in the series. In fact, you can say that about a lot of commercial games. I feel that a lot of games are basically the same. They are all basically a macho man's dream, full of guns and gore.
So this leads to my classification of these categories. If I were to rank them based on which will be more relevant in the future, indie games you can donate to would be on top, followed by indie games for pay and then commercial games. Why do I say this? I say this because, a long time from now, I will remember the artistically relevant games that cost a very minimal amount that the many power-fantasy that people buy for too high of a price. Games today (like Halo 3 and Gears of War) are just mindless entertainment and are completely juvenile. Games like Daisuke Amaya's game “Cave Story” have proved that games don't need to have big budgets or huge teams developing the game to be a stellar title. It had a low budget and one person doing the whole game!
In conclusion, I prefer indie games because they aren't mindless and boring. Commercial video games are all turning into the same thing. Imagine if all the big movies from here on out were romantic comedies. Would anyone seriously enjoy that? I'm pretty sure no one would. This is why indie developers deserved your cash more than the big corporations of the world do.