Indie video games are becoming the norm

Brian FosdickOn occasion I like to take time off the political grind and write about my real passion: video games.  Video games themselves are a pretty dynamic topic. Some see them as a waste of time, some see them as a cause of violence and some see them as the best thing that has ever happened. Changes to video games are large and often overlooked, but when you look at where I came from as a kid with Mario to today’s modern games, it’s hard not to see the immense changes.

Many video games though have opened up ideas in to a whole new way for the economy to work. Ten years ago people couldn’t even imagine coders creating their own games from home and selling them wholesale online without ever going through a publisher. Nowadays, I don’t even think one could debate that many of the best games that have come out in the past few years have been independently produced games.

The most noticeable indie game over the past couple of years was of course Minecraft. It dropped like a bomb and it was more uncommon for people not to be playing Minecraft. Minecraft opened so many eyes to the fact that creating your own game and having it go viral on the internet was a very real thing.  Whether or not the game itself was actually good is up to your personal opinion, but after it dropped, you began to see an increase in indie games.

Systems like Kickstarter and Steam started opening up new doors for indie games to be distributed and funded easily over the internet. Some games went the free-to-play route and simply sold aesthetic changes that could be bought to look different or support the company and even games like this started making ridiculous amounts of money League of Legends style. It not only changed the way people imagined video game distribution, but it helped bring a new idea on how entertainment products could make money.

As much as companies would like to believe that pirates are ruining games, music, and movies, indie games are proving over and over again that it’s not the consumers that are the problem, but the games themselves. With mainstream games having  higher price tags, shorter stories and increasing amounts of expensive downloadable content, its becoming harder to buy games than it is to simply play free or low cost indie games in their place.

Don’t get me wrong though; there will always be games that will have their place as major blockbusters in the mainstream. Games like Halo, Call of Duty and Gears of War aren’t going anywhere fast. That said, the lack of innovation in the mainstream market is also pushing more people into indie games. Taking on the persona of super soldier #342 in brown grey apocalyptic world #1254 can only be fun so many times. I’ve pretty much short every human and alien ethnicity available in mainstream first person shooters and it has just grown stale.

Just offhand from the last couple of months I can name several indie games with fun ideas and new art styles that aren’t recycled every half a year for the sake of padding someone’s pocket book. Don’t Starve is set in a Tim Burton-esque world where the game play is much like the title in that your main goal is to not starve and find out why you got thrown into this world. Faster Than Light allows you to take over a spaceship for a Federation and try to complete various missions for them with all of the problems and tribulations that come with piloting a spaceship. The level of micromanagement allowed in the game is ridiculous and leads to a fun and interactive strategic experience that just generally isn’t seen in many games.

The list doesn’t end there and it’s not hard to find new games like this that are opening doors for how games should be distributed. At the end of the day I think it’s time more people started supporting indie games. Your wallet and your imagination will thank you.

Brian Fosdick is a junior journalism major. His columns appear Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.