Those of you who remember my four and five page (and sometimes longer) blogs might be happy to know that I have somehow successfully managed to train myself to limit my blogs to about 1,000 words, which loosely translates to a bit more than a page and a bit less than two pages. Anyway, I had so many ideas for a blog today and finally settled on my outlook for 2014 and what I will probably find myself playing a lot of.

Indie games.

The past couple of months, my gaming interests and habits have changed significantly...for a number of different reasons I'm sure. I once was a completionist - so much so that I had to finish any game I started whether I was actually enjoying it or not. I also used to focus on one, maybe two, but no more than three games at any one time. I played a lot of new releases, most of which were big name titles.

All of that has pretty much changed and the opposites are now true.

(Draw a Stickman: Epic is...well, er...epic!)

Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in my gaming interests has been my new found appreciation of indie games. Now, I've always supported the little guys and girls and have played handfuls of indie titles the past couple of years. Some of you may recall how much I gushed over Limbo when it was released. I still really like that game. But there is a difference between just supporting the indie movement and having a true appreciation for their creations.

I'm finally understanding that difference and the reasons why.

Many gamers will tell you indie games are a great alternative to the blockbuster titles because they are cheaper but still provide a fulfilling gaming experience. I used to think like this too, but realized this was part of me just supporting the game and indie movement, but not really appreciating it. Now that I truly appreciate indie games, I still enjoy their low cost but almost feel guilty for paying so little and getting so much. A perfect example is Mark of the Ninja. Such a spectacular game - stunning art, perfect voice and audio tracks, tense game play, compelling story - it has it is the complete package...and a package weighing in at only a few bucks. When I purchased it on Steam it was only $7.50, but a few days ago I was flabbergasted to see it available for $2.99. My only hope is it sells so many copies the developers are still able to make bucket loads of money off of it. They deserve to, that's for sure.

Here are the main reasons why I truly appreciate the indie games...


Debating the existence of originality is a discussion that could span pages upon pages. And while I think it is becoming more challenging to create something uniquely original, I have found indie games tend to exhibit more originality in their design, story and presentation than top tier games. I don't fault the big name titles and their many numbered sequels. I happen to be big fan of Call of Duty and the others, but I pretty much know every one I buy is going to practically be the same as the one before it.


Creativity is similar to originality but different enough to warrant mentioning it separately. In many instances, the core game might not be all that original but the creative direction the developers used still make it a masterpiece. In one particular game I am playing now, you draw an actual stick figure and then play the game as your drawing. I don't know if every aspect of the game is original, but it is certainly creative. And a lot more fun than I ever thought it would be.


When I say personality, I don't necessarily mean indie games have personality - but their developers do. It's been my experience and maybe yours to...indie developers tend to be more accessible and available to discuss their game. There are so many people involved with developing and producing the top tier games, you could spend half an hour watching the credits and still not make it to the end. In defense of the big studios and developers, many of them try to make themselves available as much as they can - but there is only so much time and so many people who follow their games that want to ask questions and conduct interviews, it's hard for them to reach out and touch everybody. I've had the pleasure of talking with a number of indie developers and they are just as passionate and every bit as proud of their games as the big studios are. I admire them for chasing their dreams and making the games they want to make, and I enjoy sharing in that experience by playing their games.

(Image is property of Klei Entertainment, my favorite indie game developer)


I don't know if 2014 is going to be the year where we try to define or re-define what it means to be a game, but certainly we are seeing what might be the early stages of some sort of transformation from the traditional video game to this new generation of multimedia experience (just don't mention this to the hosts of the Jacked Up Indie & Mojo show). And I'm okay with that. I like playing a shorter game whose sole purpose is to subject me to an intended and very specific experience and then it ends. For the same reason you are more likely to find me reading a comic book than a 1,000 page novel, I don't always have the time to sit and play a game for 30+ hours to reach the ending but I still want to experience the ending. Indie games are normally shorter lived but often tell just as powerful of a story...and I appreciate that.


I've been building my own gaming computers for the better part of 20 years and still enjoy tinkering...swapping hardware in and out and testing different software configurations. But I'm finding I play more games on my laptop as a matter of convenience, which is okay for most indie games, but seldom works for any of the top tier games due to their steep hardware requirements. Maybe it is my age starting to show a little, but I'm often surprised with the required hard drive space needed by some new games. And although I understand it and am thankful hard drives no longer cost what they once did, I'm always pleased when I can download a new indie game title in a matter of minutes, have it installed and playing in no time, and am still treated to a unique and entertaining experience.

(Keeping my eye on these guys!)

While I enjoy a good indie game and appreciate them for the reasons mentioned above, I'm not planning to give up on the big names anytime soon, but I am enjoying a break from their hefty price tags and annual releases. I do recognize the time, energy and resources it takes to produce the triple A titles we are treated to each month and am thankful the industry supports this kind of commitment.

At the end of the day I suppose it really comes down to what entertains you the most, what you're willing to pay and what you get out of the experience. I'm looking forward to 2014 and figuring out what that might be...and whether the indie game movement is going to continue the charge or be crushed by the giants in the business.