As I was sitting in my office chair, playing an indie game while simultaneously mulling over different topics to write about for the latest Bitmob Wants You, my mind began drifting to motorcycles. I pushed them out at first, claiming they were irrelevant and that I should be thinking about indie games. But as I began dissecting the core ideas behind indie games, something struck me. These titles are built on a culture of freedom and fellowship, just like motorbikes.
After World War II, servicemen found difficulty reintegrating into society, not necessarily because it had changed but because they had changed as people. They had witnessed awful things during the war, things that no one but a fellow soldier could understand. The bond between soldiers was (and is) so strong that few outside of the military can possibly understand, and that’s why motorcycle clubs became so appealing. Motorcycles provided something extreme, a replacement for the adrenaline rush of war, and clubs provided the camaraderie that society could not provide. These groups were a brotherhood. They provided former GIs with a chance to gather and be part of something bigger once again.
Motorcycles provided GIs with freedom, and as ludicrous as it sounds, indie games are providing the same for players. Like it or not, today’s mainstream titles are mild and impersonal conformists. Few developers seem to really care about advancing interactive entertainment, and most are more than happy pumping out the same kind of action titles.
That’s where indie games come in.
In complete contrast to the rest of the industry, the indie scene is all about being on the outside, doing what it loves and only giving its best while doing it. It’s not about how much a game sells (though that’s still important) or how quickly the sequel can be released, it’s about how great a game is. Be it because of unique mechanics, a captivating story, or a wicked sense of humor, it’s all about providing something that can’t be found elsewhere.
I find myself amazed whenever I talk to bikers about why they ride and how much they love it. Having ridden a few motorcycles myself, I understand completely. Driving a car is such a mundane task. It’s a chore really, but cruising along the highway in a motorcycle isn’t. You can smell the air, feel the wind, and flow with the movement of the vehicle. It’s an experience. Things are taken for granted when in a car. A pretty view is barely worth admiring while driving a car, but on a bike, you feel like you could just reach out and touch it.
Lately, gaming has felt like driving in a car for me, mundane for the most part with only a few things worth noticing. I look at all the titles releasing soon, and I just sit there completely indifferent. I’m always excited to see a sequel for a game I like, but I’m even more ecstatic when I see something new coming along. It doesn’t even have to be all that good. I just want major developers to try something different.
Yet, when I look over at the indie scene, I see it finding new life through digital distribution and a more-informed audience. Ever since titles like Minecraft and Braid showed how amazing indie offerings can be, gamers have started actively searching for these experiences, just looking to find that next piece of independent gold.
But perhaps I’m putting too much into this, and maybe I don’t have a valid reason to compare indie games and motorcycles. All I know is that I can feel the same type of freedom while playing indie games as I do when riding out on the open road. And now that I’ve felt the sensation, I’m not going back to just playing big-time retail releases.
I’m going to be free.
How do indie games make you feel? Leave a comment.