One specific category I have gravitated to is the Documentary section, as I have found several interesting documentaries to watch that are far and beyond more interesting and entertaining than half of the garbage movies found on Netflix. One of these hidden gems I stumbled upon was a film called Indie Game: The Movie. It is a documentary that focused on the development team of Super Meat Boy as they were finishing up the game, as well as Phil Fish, the developer of FEZ, on his struggling journey of developing the long-awaited and highly-anticipated game.
The movie doesn't cast a warm and fuzzy light on the indie game industry by any stretch of the imagination. The developers that they follow are sad, depressed and desperate to finish their games. Fish, who is shown in the middle of a viscous legal battle for the rights to continue developing and showing off the game with a vindictive ex-business partner.
FEZ, the game he is shown working on, had one problem after another. It was first shown off one year, and went several years after that before any new information, screens, videos or demos ever came out again. He ran into one problem after another in the development in the cycle, and people started to question whether it would ever come out. Well, it did, last year on the Xbox 360, and I gladly bought it then. I played it, beat it and loved it immensely. The long wait and hard work paid off for Phil Fish, as the game was an instant success and one of the true masterpieces of the XBLA.
Well, FEZ was re-released for the PC this week, and because Steam is a vicious, unforgiving money-grabbing rabbit hole, I bought it - again. Tonight, I plugged in my Xbox controller, fired up my laptop, opened up Steam, and jumped back in to the beautiful, imaginative world that Gomez (the character) is discovering for the first time.
Playing this game tonight made me think of something profound, and literally by sheer coincidence. You see, last night, as I was playing Thomas Was Alone, I was also helping my cousin write a paper for his English class in college about whether or not the college education experience is meant to simply guide you along a career path and tell you what to think, or to open your mind and teach you how to think. There was one analogy in the book he was reading that struck me as powerful, and was the core concept of the paper being written. It was a story about a group of fish, where the older fish looks at the couple of younger fish as they are swimming along and asks them, "How's the water today?" The younger fish look at each other confused, turn back to the older fish and ask, "What's water?"
The principle idea is that people are so focused in today's society, especially in college, in figuring out their path through life that they don't ever really see or notice the world around them. And that, folks, is EXACTLY what the game FEZ is about. Living in a world where you think what you see is the only thing that is reality, until someone opens your eyes and you see the real world around you for the first time.
Now I could go on and on about what the game is about, how it plays, how fantastically gorgeous it is - but that is exactly what you want me to do. Instead, I challenge you to go play the game - whether it be on XBLA or Steam - and discover what it's like to learn how to think. Go, be the young fish and discover what water is.
Besides, these indie developers need your help. They are a depressed group of talented people, and every dollar you give them will help bring them a little bit closer to happiness.