There are two ways to exist in a market – create what the consumers want or make the consumers want what you create. The former all too often stays within the boundaries of conventions and past successes, peeping out of the borders on rare occasions, but mostly doing what is tried and tested with little incremental innovation. It is the latter of the choice which tends to inspire. We find them perpetually staying out the box, in a scary place without the safety nets of money or conventional wisdom. These are the pioneers who brave to go into the unknown.
Most indie projects are doomed to failure, but nevertheless they remain powerful symbols of innovation, human creativity superseding the rather pedestrian quest for stability. Of course, not all creative works resonate with the masses. Subjectivity, the foundation stone of art, ensures that not all genius is recognized. And sometimes trash masquerades as genius. But one man’s trash could be another one's treasure. We just check to see if we enjoy it, post our opinions and if many of us end up appreciating it, the genius shall claim to be recognized.
But computer games are a breed apart from conventional art. They are not just static art. They lie in the unique three-way intersection of interactivity, technology, and art. A combination of art forms like music, graphics, story-telling and programming combine and interact with the users, allowing them to immerse their lives in virtual worlds. Computer games thus have presented greater scope for innovation than anything that has ever been created so far. And as anyone would notice, the gaming industry, because of this uniqueness of theirs, has been able to sustain a rabid consumer base unlike any other industry. It is a consumer base that continues to be tapped into by game publishers for many years now.
But gaming, like any other commercialized industry, has found itself reduced to sustainability rather than innovation. However, a new era is unfolding. The internet and open-source community driven initiatives are now showing us new business models, ones which have the potential to change the entire landscape of the publisher-dominated game industry.
In a world of pop culture, where ideas are dumbed down in order to find consensual acceptance through the mainstream, and cash money is preferred to creative wealth, it takes guts and tenacity to stand out and believe in your imagination. Indie game developers do so. It is a choice they make – to stick with their visions rather than selling themselves out to the dry corporate world of deadlines, average creativity, and profit maximization. They might set the trends if they are lucky or might fade away into oblivion. But this is what innovation and art has always been about.
And It is a return to the early days of game development, ones which saw some incredible works of genius, many which we still love to date.