Opinion: Indie Games, Indie Bundles and why they have made me a more appreciative gamer


Photo Courtesy of Humble Bundle
Photo Courtesy of Humble Bundle

Compiling multiple games or content together is nothing new in the video game industry. Game of the year sets, or box set collections, have provided gamers with the opportunity to explore some big blockbuster titles from major developers at an affordable price. However, a more recent fad, in which has taken many gamers by storm, are bundle collections. Released by independent companies and websites, bundles ,such as the Humble Indie Bundle or the Indie Royale Bundle, have come to shed the spotlight not only on some major titles that gamers may have missed out on the first time, but also (as you could have guessed) on less mainstream games as well, more commonly known as indie games. For a minimal price gamers can experience a vast array of unique games. Not only that, they can feel less guilty for spending money on videogames, as many of these sites donate some of the funds to charities. Now isn’t that sweet.

Over the last year I have come to be oddly obsessed with bundle collections. After picking up one of the Humble Indie Bundle’s I immediately fell in love with the games received, so much so that for some I put equal or more time into them, then games deemed more mainstream. Games such as Braid, Jamestown, Limbo, or Cave Story+ have come to captivate me in a way that I often do not feel with those big blockbuster titles. I think one reason for this, which truly cannot be rationalised, is the presumed amount of work I think the creators have put into these games, and their overall creative process. Many of these games mentioned were created by one or a select few, sometimes taking years to create and having to go through multiple changes. However, this is not to say that these creators work harder than those who work on big, blockbuster titles. Rather it is that sense of DIY (do it yourself) that draws me to these games, and how someone can come up with such a unique and bold gaming experience without the need of a giant team backing them. They are responsible for creating the story, the animations, the game play and so on. Literally, they are creating a new world for gamers to experience, even if it only is for a few hours.

Photo Courtesy of Superflat Games and Jasper Byrne
Photo Courtesy of Superflat Games and Jasper Byrne

One indie game that sums this creative process up, and one in which I cannot praise enough, is Lone Survivor. Without going into much detail, the game, created by Jasper Byrne, looks like a retro side-scrolling title while the atmosphere can be linked to that created in many modern survivor horror titles, such as Resident Evil.

While some indie games pay tribute to previous titles of the same genre, as noted above, many others offer bold and unique experiences that would not be released by a mainstream publisher. One simple reason for this is the risk factor. Major publishers are not going to risk marketing and publishing a game that has a minimalist budget (as compared bigger titles), or a game that will likely only capture a select niche of gamers. While this is not to say that all publishers will do this, more often than not they are looking for the next big, multi-platform game that screams sequel. The industry has come to focus far too much on the notion of a “blockbuster title”, which is why indie titles, and bundles are so desperately needed. They breathe fresh air into stagnant, yearly releases.

Being tired of these yearly releases, I constantly yearn for a unique game to be released. Often this comes in the form of indie titles. Whenever possible I try to get my hands on the newest bundle, hoping to find that one game that just clicks for me. When it happens I am absolutely enthusiastic: How did I never hear of this game before? Why has no one mentioned this game to me? This can be attributed to the fact that many indie titles are quietly released on small sites, or via Steam, and thus to a very limited number of gamers. Thus, if it were not for the Humble Indie Bundle, along with other bundles, myself and many other gamers would very likely never experience such a vast array of unique titles. Because of these bundles, I have come to place many mainstream games on the backburner, at least for a little bit. For a mere dollar or more I can experience a multitude of games that are often just as creative and unique as big releases, if not more so. This is what makes these bundles so amazing, for not only are they easily accessible and cheap, they allow for small-time creators to reach out to a wider audience and thus garner greater attention. Without the aid of these bundles, creators would likely not find as large of an audience, nor would gamers come to experience such a vast array of unique titles.

Ultimately, these bundles demonstrate what is so exhilarating about the video game industry- that any up and comer can create their own unique game and with the proper support can find an audience.

The video game industry for years now has come to tantalize and engage individuals like no other medium before it. While some may claim that the industry has lost some of its magic with yearly big blockbuster titles and repetitive game play, there are still those indie creators and developers that seek to re-ignite that magical spark in which make video games so much fun and an utterly unique experience. Bundles are the perfect kindling to start that fire igniting both the passion to create and the excitement to play something new once more.

*Now here is where I want to hear from you, the community. Do you think that indie games have made you a more appreciative of the creative process, or simply because they offer you another reason to game. Sound of in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.

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