Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 31, 2013
In spite of having been “indie” for quite some time, even before it was much of a thing, some days I look at what’s happening in indie-dom and really feel like an outsider.
I think a good deal of it stems from background and culture. I have been a PC gamer – a computer gamer – most of my life. I never had an Atari or NES or Genesis. My games were on the C-64, or in the arcade, or – later – on the PC. When other people were talking about Mortal Kombat, I was talking about Wing Commander. My first dedicated game console was the Sony Playstation, and my favorite game (aside from our own) was a collection of emulated arcade games. My girlfriend was blown away by Super Mario Brothers and tried to get me just as hooked on the game as she was. She failed, due in no small part to my not owning the NES console and not spending THAT much time at her house. I ended up playing a bit of it over the next several years – it was as ubiquitous in 1989 as Combat had been for the Atari almost a decade earlier, and a lot more fun to play – and I enjoyed it. But I never bonded to it the way others did.
I’m very much a latecomer (and newb) to the Metroid and Mega Man series. Castlevania was, for many years, just an arcade game (not a series). Zelda? I enjoyed it, and thought they did a very nice job pulling off an action-adventure with RPG “flavor” for kids for the Nintendo. But I wasn’t saying, “Zelda! WOW!” I was too busy drooling over Dungeon Master for the Amiga. While I can appreciate these older games, and have fun playing them, they aren’t my thing.
And sometimes I feel a little left out because of that. Is that really dumb or shallow? Or is it simply a case of where I was too jaded by the time they were released, my ‘generation’ of childhood games having been experienced a few years earlier? While I imagine there was a good deal of the latter, it hasn’t prevented me from re-experiencing much of the same thrill (if not exactly the wonder) of my early experiences in the hobby. If anything, I’ve probably gotten even more deeply sucked in by many modern(ish) games than I ever was as a kid. I can think of a half-dozen RPGs over the last several years that have eaten more of my time than Ultima III ever did.
Some days it feels like “indie” as a whole – the guys making the games that get (most of) the buzz and the fans – hearken back to the 8- and 16-bit console era. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little out-of-phase with “popular” indie-dom. The Sega and Nintendo generations are “all growed up” now and making games, and hearkening back to the era that inspired and molded their gaming. During their heyday, I was still playing on the C-64, or moving over to DOS-based gaming. I have friends who were all over Super Meat Boy, but I wonder what I’m missing when I had fun with it for about a 15-minute stretch, but then found it fatiguing.
Does that put me out-of-phase with gamers – my audience for games – as well?
It’s not like I’ve ever felt all that “in-phase” as an indie, to be honest. Back during the reign of casual, I … had zero interest in making casual games, even though I enjoyed time-management and match-three games well enough.
Hopefully, it is it simply a case of games and gamers coming in all flavors. Civilization will suck hours and days from my life like nobody’s business, and I’m hardly an outlier on that one. And obviously indie RPGs are making a strong showing. And if I make another action-game… well, at least I’ll probably make one that stands out from the crowd. Maybe being a little bit out-of-phase isn’t such a bad thing. I might not win any IGF competitions, but part of the origin of indie was to serve the niche gamers that were poorly served.
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