“Indie” isn’t a new or unique term just for gaming. In music and film in particular, there have been decades of independent productions that occasionally achieve mainstream success. Of course, indie games have been around since the advent of this medium, but really came to prominence among the wider public in the late 2000s and early 2010s when digital distribution began to become a major player. Like music and film, indie games gained attention based on a label that told audiences that what they were watching was the work of a small, passionate team that did not follow the same corporate mandate as traditional games. What he lacked in budget and scope, he made up for in heart and new ideas.
This word is losing its meaning in 2023. Indie is increasingly becoming a loose term used to describe any type of game rather than the actual environment in which it was made – something that this year’s Game Awards Giving rise to a controversy. With ‘indie’ being tossed around more loosely by players and gaming institutions, we’re starting to lose what made the term meaningful in the first place: it described games made by passionate teams without the means or money. Helped provide a spotlight for. Mainstream attention.
fishing for attention
The indie debate received a lot of attention this week due to the recently released nominations for The Game Awards. In particular, there was debate after dave diver Was nominated for Best Indie. dave diver It was developed by Minrocket, which is wholly owned by the billion-dollar South Korean publisher Nexon. This might not be what one thinks of when they hear the word “indie,” but on the surface, this was an easy mistake to make. The creative, small-scale game features a pixel art style typically reserved for indies these days and is a mash-up of the experimental styles we’ve come to expect from games kill the pinnacle,
good though dave diver is – and this Is A great game – it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not right to call it indie. There is no definition of this term that applies to it unless we are simply using the term to describe a certain aesthetic. Like, going by vibes alone is wrong in itself baldur’s gate 3 Despite being a massive 100-hour RPG, it’s technically an indie project that’s just as polished as any major studio-backed production.
Some may argue that this is a pedantic debate. after all, dave diver is not a Zelda-sized project and will not have a chance to compete at The Game Awards outside of the indie categories. But misuse of the label can hurt games that really depend on that indie spotlight. When a game that’s clearly not indie gets a nomination like this, it’s less of a chance for a truly independent project to gain mainstream attention.
This is not a problem specific to sports awards. Abuse of labels can deprive smaller studios of important discovery moments. Being featured at a Nintendo Direct, ID@Xbox, or PlayStation Showcase can provide significant exposure that a small team could never dream of achieving on its own. Teams owned by big publishers shouldn’t spend money on marketing to divert attention from those who need it.
How we label genres and classify games as a whole may be arbitrary (debates like “roguelike vs. roguelite” will make your head spin), but the indie label serves a specific purpose. When used correctly, it allows unique titles to reach the masses in a highly competitive market that favors large studio productions. When the industry starts throwing this term around and any game can be considered free as long as it has pixel art, that value goes away. This is not a purist plea to use language the way it was intended, but a genuine concern for the health of the gaming industry. The more we misuse the term indie, the more damage it can do to developers whose chance at success often depends on the term.