The Indie Game Movement

The power of independent games are undeniable, but what are indie games, and what makes them so important right now? The rise of the Web and digital downloads, both on PC and console, has unlocked a hive of creativity from independent game creators - leading to innovation in a multitude of game genres, the revitalization of classic game styles and the creation of entirely new blends of art and playability. asked prominent creators, from Braid's Jonathan Blow through Aquaria's Derek Yu, Venture Africa's Andy Schatz and Armadillo Run's Peter Stock, why they think independent games are so vital as a creative art:

"The indie game movement is the most important transition this industry has seen since the rise of the internet. Indie visionaries have single-handedly created the casual game genre, brought back long-dormant genres such as the strategy, adventure, and puzzle games, and have created entirely new concepts within gaming. Indie games have spurred the growth of technology that has allowed serious games and persuasive games to be created. Indie games are the ONLY games that simultaneously satisfy the gourmand, the casual gamer, and the revolutionary."
- Andy Schatz, Pocketwatch Games (Venture Africa)

"Games are an important medium for communication. They have a mode of expression that's very different from what other media can do. However, the mainstream industry does not spend much effort exploring the expressive power of games; that's where the indies come in. Indies can make whatever games they want to make, because they feel those games are interesting -- which is something the mainstream industry is no longer capable of."
- Jonathan Blow, Number-None (Braid)

"Basically, the indie scene made me love games again! It's where the passion is, it's where the most interesting games are, and it's where the most interesting people are. For the mainstream industry, everything goes in one direction: bigger, shinier, 3D-ier. Indie games go in every direction, and it's exciting as hell. We'll keep 'em honest."
- Derek Yu, Bit-Blot (Aquaria)

"I think indie games are important because there seems to be an increasing feeling of stagnation in mainstream games. Although I'm not convinced that the mainstream doesn't innovate (Vib Ribbon, Katamari, EyeToy, Singstar, DS, Wii), I think indie games are a fruitful avenue for innovation. I also think indie games are important because they democratize development. Games are creations and the lower the barriers to making them the better. I couldn't design and make cars, buildings or practially anything else tangible on my own even if I had the skill, but I can make games on a small budget."
- Peter Stock (Armadillo Run)

"Indie games are important because the challenge the current status quo in the games industry. Independent games take risks and push the game play boundaries that licensed, franchised & sequel games rarely do, and everyone benefits. Gamers benefit from new experiences and perhaps new emotions that only truly innovative games can deliver. The industry benefits through the introduction and testing of novel ideas & techniques that can be used to enhance larger games. Larger studios are often responsible for technical innovation, but it's independent studios that push the boundaries of creative innovation."
- Thomas Arundel (Darwinia)

"I believe - fiercely and with passion - that the independent video game scene is in the midst of a startling rise to prominence. Why? Because innovative artistic games made by small teams finally have the ability to be easily played and enjoyed by gamers. Viva la indie revolution!"
- Simon Carless (Chairman, IGF)

About The IGF

UBM TechWeb (producer of Game Developer magazine,, and the Game Developers Conference) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

The competition, now in its 13th year, awarded a total of nearly $50,000 in prizes to deserving indie creators in Main Competition and Student Competition categories at the IGF Awards Ceremony, held in March 2010 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA, as one of the highlights of the Game Developers Conference.

The Independent Games Festival will return in March 2011 at GDC in San Francisco - look for more information soon. [More information...]

About The IGS

Featuring lectures, postmortems and roundtables from some of the most notable independent game creators around, the Independent Games Summit is a yearly event, with iterations thus far taking place in March 2007, February 2008, March 2009 and March 2010 at Game Developers Conference.

UBM TechWeb (which curates the IGF and runs GDC) plans to continue and grow the Independent Games Summit in subsequent years. [More information...]