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INDIE, BEATING THE MAINSTREAM AT ITS OWN GAME

This is the golden age of indie. The past few years has seen an explosion of astounding independently developed games. Around the world, bedroom coders and small teams of devs are producing some of the most exciting, innovative and just plain fun experiences available. And what’s more, with the maturation of digital distribution on consoles, PC and handheld devices, they’re reaching ever larger audiences.

It’s never been easier to make them either. Tools such as Flash, the Unreal Development Kit, Game Maker, Unity and Microsoft XNA have made development ultra-accessible. The creation of videogames has been democratised. Now anyone with an idea and a little skill can realise their dreams in videogame form.

And what dreams they are. The indie scene is awash with interesting, challenging, charming and joyful games. While the mainstream seems intent on either playing it safe with endless franchise sequels or going after the Wii buck with motion-controlled casual titles, indie games are taking more and more risks and reaping the rewards.

It’s a notion that has been echoed elsewhere, but the current state of videogames echoes that of Hollywood in the ’60s and ’70s. At that time the major studios – the likes of MGM and Universal – were a factory, pumping out film after film, sticking to tried and tested genres in order to recoup the huge expense of production. It was filmaking as industry, not as an art.

However, the rise of a group of independent directors and producers revolutionised the system. The likes of Scorsese, DePalma, Altman and Peckinpah rejected or subverted the established norms, creating relatively cheap, experimental films that rejuvenated cinema. The boundaries had been destroyed and it had a trickle-up effect on the entire medium. The big studios couldn’t help but take notice.

Independent developers are beginning to do the same thing for videogames.

(Read more at Gaming Union)