A unique documentary exploring the often misunderstood lives of games developers will reveal their subjects as artists, the film’s co-creators have said.
Documentarians Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky – who have drawn together extensive footage of developers at work to create Indie Game: The Movie – say the film puts game creators in a new light.
“When we did this it blew us away that this movie didn’t actually exist. No one had told the designer’s story,” said Swirsky in an exclusive interview with Develop.
“We have all these documentaries about filmmaking and the music business, but not video games. If there were documentaries, there are always about players, or Second Life, or how games are damaging,” he added.
Co-creator Pajot adds: “You really see people pour their hearts into these games and you see the heartbreak and jubilation that comes from that.
“At every screening we’ve done it felt like someone in the audience had an epiphany – they would raise their hand after and tell us what it was about. They’d say ‘so these people who make the games – they are artists too, right?’
“The film never talks about art, the word art is never used. But still, it has turned a light on in people’s heads.”
Capturing the art of coding
Indie Game The Movie, which will soon be seen across America through a special screening tour, is said to reflect on the business and artistic struggles of indie developers.
The feature-length piece, which won a Sundance Award for best documentary editing, captures the struggles of Team Meat’s Tommy Refernes (pictured) and Edmund McMillen (pictured) as they try to finish a games project to a fixed deadline.
On March 5th the film will be shown to hundreds of developers at GDC in San Francisco, marking a defining moment for the documentary itself.
Though both Pajot and Swirsky are excited to show the film to indie developers, they say one of the documentary’s biggest successes is how it appeals to non-gamers.
“They see what these people go through to make games. And funnily, a lot of the people who responded positively were women, aged from 30 up to 60,” said Pajot.
Swirsky adds: “And older gentlemen. It seemed people over 30 really had their eyes opened. They would come up and say ‘I’m not a gamer’ or even ‘I hate games, but’ and then step up to acknowledge how they had learned about games, or saw them in a new light, or might even go out and buy Super Meat Boy.
“Because our movie is just about one or two guys in a heightened situation and a dramatic soundtrack – it’s a dramatic film. I was worried the people in the wider industry wouldn’t get it, but they did.
“But what we’re hoping to show is that there is an immediate connection between a developer and their game.
“If you see our movie, and understand how the developer crafted that game, then play their game, your experience will be richer.
“People will appreciate more if they understand what went into the passion that goes into any game.”