The Pick: Indie Game, a movie about the tortured artists behind, yes, video games
Video games don’t get enough credit. They’re the ugly stepchild of popular culture, dismissed from most serious discussions about art, craft and social influence (unless there’s a fresh panic regarding their pernicious effects). Indeed, the rest of popular culture usually paints video games as the domain of shut-ins, insomniacs and socially handicapped man-children. Indie Game: The Movie, by first-time filmmakers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, aims to change that perception, taking us behind the scenes into the lives of game designers. And it’s way more exciting than it sounds.
The film follows the production of three independent games and their eccentric, neurotic, passionate makers. There’s Jonathan Blow, a poetic video game veteran who designed the already-released and wildly successful Braid (he made millions in XBox Live sales). There’s Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, the designer and programmer, respectively, behind Super Meat Boy, which the film follows through its gruelling final months of production. And there’s Phil Fish, the one-time wunderkind of the gaming world, whose much-delayed cubist Fez is causing him all kinds of grief. These are the lives of overworked auteurs—no less than musicians or painters, they are wildly passionate about their art and their art form, and they have the emotional scars to prove it. Viewers don’t need to know anything about video games—even if your last session was a game of Tetris, the sheer human drama of watching these creators strive will keep you engrossed. And it might just make you want to start playing again.