i spoke at gdc again this year, though they called it “rapid-fire indies” instead of “indie rants” because apparently they’re trying to move away from the idea of rants. but if they wanted to get away from the idea of rants, why did they have me speak? my speech was about how we should move away from the idea of “INDIE GAMES” instead. here is a video my friend andrew recorded, and here is a transcript:
INDIE GAME SUMMIT.
INDIE GAMES FESTIVAL.
INDIE GAME DEVELOPERS.
THE INDIE SCENE.
the words we choose to label things define the limits of our discussion, and this discussion is much more limited than the one i’d like to be having.
i don’t think the “indie” label has ever sat right with me because it has always seemed so limited: when we talk about indie games, we’re talking about a set of twenty or so particular games that look a certain way and play a certain way, which were made by an inner circle of celebrated indie game developers to be played by people who self-identify as “indie game fans” and perhaps no one else.
when, really, the promise of tools like game maker — that let anyone make a game with no professional or programming experience — and the cheap broadband internet that allows them to distribute their games without a publisher is GAMES MADE BY EVERYONE FOR EVERYONE, not games by the same small handful of nerds for the same nerds to play.
that’s what we should be having a conference about: this amazing era that we stand on the threshold of where game creation is available to everyone, where no one has to be just a fan or part of a scene because everyone can be a creator. that’s what’s exciting.
the indie label doesn’t contribute anything to the discussion except a needless sense of distance: calling a game an indie game or an author an indie developer just enforces the illusion that it’s an exclusive club, an inner circle to which most people aren’t admitted.
so my challenge to all of us is to stop thinking and talking in terms of indie games and indie developers, to get beyond the idea of an indie scene, to center the discussion on GAMES made by PEOPLE because there are going to be a whole lot more people making a whole lot more games and the indie label has become a moeity — a distinction we don’t need to make in an era where there’s no distinction between who can make videogames and who can’t.