Jul 222012


Screening at the Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival in Sydney in August, Indie Game: The Movie is an engaging and entertaining look at the world of independent video game developers. It is a documentary that will appeal not only to gamers, but also too those who have ever had the passion put their heart and soul into creating something. Review after the jump.

Phil Fish

If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to get a game made and on the market, this film will answer all of your questions. The documentary follows the story of 3 very different games and the experiences of the developers behind them. In essence the film represents the past (already successful), present (on the brink of success), and future (working towards success) of the indie gaming world. Jonathan Blow who developed one of the most successful indie games in recent times, Braid represents someone who has found success, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes who created Super Meat Boy are the present, and Phil Fish the developer of Fez is the independent battler who represents the future.

While these four men are at very different stages in their careers, the thing they all have in common is a passion, a fire, to create great games that mean something to them – financial success would be fantastic, but it is the drive to create games that they want to play which keeps them all going. They all grew up gamers – young boys who loved playing video games and never grew out of it. The passion they have for their craft is no different than a writer or a painter might have for theirs’ – they are artists, and as such they suffer and toil away at their art without any real guarantee of success. Social lives, partners, finances, and even the men’s mental health – it is often pushed aside in favour of the often seemingly endless development of their games.


It was this very personal insight into not only the work behind the development of the games, but the mental toughness needed to succeed which makes this documentary stand out. The men are all very personable, and you quickly get caught up in their stories. As someone who played (and loved) Braid, I found it fascinating to hear what went into getting it on the market. Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen’s story was very compelling – it was the final stages of the development of their game, and the eventual launch which drove the film. I found myself feeling anxious in the final stages of the film, and felt genuine emotion when the game finally went on sale. Phil Fish’s story was a little less upbeat. He is a man who has worked away for more than four years on a project he wasn’t even sure he could finish. The pain and frustration he felt reminded me of a writer who couldn’t quite get the final act of their work completed.

Three very different stories offered three very different insights into the development of indie games. Indie Game: The Movie is a compelling, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining documentary that can easily be enjoyed by both gamers and non-gamers alike.


Indie Game: The Movie plays on August 17 as part of the Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival in Sydney. After the screening there is also the chance to enjoy a free drink and play some video games – and if you’re anything like me after seeing this, the first thing you’ll want to do is play a kick-ass game. For information and tickets click here


The Facts

Director: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
Starring: Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, Edmund McMillen, Tommy Refenes
Runtime: 92 minutes