Now after somewhere around three months of silence, the blog has been regularly visited and I feel the need to reintroduce myself. Like a complete stranger.
Lots and lots has been going on in the real world for Leonore and me, so much, that I’m sick and tired of the real world and must talk about some topic of virtuality.
This time, I would like to bring independent game developers to your attention. Since them as well as blogging is an utterly internet-inherent phenomenon, most readers around will probably know them. In the last two years, they have produced very basic-looking titles, that gained more than many a highbudget production. I realized, that I myself have been fascinated by an indie developer, back when I was presenting “Auditorium” on this page. What got my attention then still attracts it: in the best cases, independently produced games introduce creativity, originality and diversity into the computer arts.
But today I talk about them, because I have seen this film, a somewhat sentimental documentation about the top scoring indie developpers currently around. One of them, Phil Fish, shares one of my own esthetic credos: computer games are the highest form of art, we have today. Everything you can do in the other arts, you can do in computer games plus the implementation of interactivity.
This philosophical starting point has many interesting implications, such as: the highest art can manipulate the most parameters of existence and can thereby influence existence the most. Art leads us to changing the world and by opening the door to virtuality, we will be able to change our psychological worlds, the visions of our own life most profoundly and repeatedly during our lifes. We will be able, in our mind, to try more possibilities, be a multitude of personalities, experience in a way what we wish, but is nowadays impossible.
From the perspective of art history, this postulate is inspiring: When someone programming games on a low budget and with nothing but his own ideas and some friends defines his work as art, which can be backed anytime by defining his work as serving only itself and no other goals, then the high polished, reality-mimicking game (and film) industry becomes instantly a realistic or hyperrealistic movement, next to which other movements must be expected.
One last proposition is the following.While seemingly perfect, finished, unpersonal artworks seem to be consumed mostly passively, the unperfect yet highly personalized independent statement provokes higher and more profound creativity by its players. The more abstract, so to speak, an artwork is, the more a well-meaning viewer/user -> viewser feels inspired to complete it in his head, to form a meaningful experience for himself.
For this last point the best example might be Minecraft. The game is very simple: build things to defend yourself against monsters. But build essentially whatever you want. This has led to some truely fantastic outputs, that build all sorts of things into the gameworld: Houses, towers, starship enterprise D, notre-dame or even simple computers. Now these creations themselves are a very special form of art: they don’t serve any visible goal and they let you think about real things in new ways, just like the basket of rotten vegetables or the geometrically deconstructed views of cubism. Who would think, that you could build a processing machine out of dirt and some burning substance, virtual dirt and fuel even! This could lead quite easily to experiments with other forms of real computers, out of organic substance, which is indeed a topic that is currently worked on.
Still, I’m not drawing any conclusions.
Indiegames in general:
And Fez; I especially like the Flatland idea: