Before it got all associated with beanies, straw fedoras, and horned-rim glasses; the word “indie” was about creation without the backing and boundaries of corporation. The revolutions of punk rock or Image Comics are testaments of what could change the landscape when do-it-yourself attitudes are allowed to flourish. Video games are in the middle of such a renaissance. Channeling the winds of 80’s developers who first launched the home video game market; the new all inclusive group of gamers world wide are creating weird and astonishing ways of telling interactive stories while innovating play on a level never seen before. Through the aid of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Australian media production company, StudioBento, have released a new documentary that snapshots devs active in this new gaming movement. GameLoading: Rise of the Indies is an interesting tale of these artists, while at the same time being an invitation to anyone who’s ever thought to themselves, ”I’d like to make a game.”
While GameLoading, spotlights developers like Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), Rami Ismail (Vlambeer), and Christine Love (Analogue: A Hate Story); the soul of its story is the launch of Davey Wreden’s The Stanley Parable. The struggles of the Nuovo award winning game are eye opening to say the least. Launching any form of new idea whether it’s a TV show, a line of clothes, or a video game is nerve racking, but the feelings of anxiousness and despair take on a whole new level when the team isn’t a massive publisher, but instead only two people with everything to lose. Before the documentary I’d never heard of the game, but once the end credits rolled I opened a Steam account just to buy it.
Of course there’s more to find in this 93min documentary. Interviews with gaming industry giants like the id Software founders John Romero and Tom Hall fill in the history some might not know about video games. Zoe Quinn also touches a bit on the Gamergate scandal; she presents a brave stance in a culture where Internet trolls can often be the most vocal and demoralizing opinions. In addition, the documentary takes the audience through the minefield of the convention scene at such shows around the world like Game City, PAX, and GDC. While most on the outside believe every little detail of exhibiting at a show simply falls into place, the film does justice to all those little things that go wrong preparing or the end result by not publicizing yourself right. GameLoading also touches a bit on how the advent of downloadable games have opened the flood gates to a vast ocean of smaller games adding tremendous value to new consoles and the self publishing market.
Directed by studio founders Lester Francois and Anna Brady, GameLoading: Rise of the Indies utilizes the voyeur lens of documentaries while probing into how these developers take the interactivity of a predominantly digital world and bring it into real world. The audience gets a look at the irony of a culture, that’s stereotypically thought of as introverted, forming necessary bonds with other artists and engineers to bring new experiences in “play” to an industry that at times can feel stale. Watching it makes one realize the difference between someone who plays games and those who view gaming as a necessity not unlike oxygen. The film has appeal for everyone ranging from the enthusiasts to the hardcore alike, though your level of value depends on what part of that spectrum you land. GameLoading is the story of “play” told on screen and what that definition means to a worldwide community still in the infancy of its potential.