This documentary in one tweet
Several nerds dedicate their lives to creating video games that connect with people like works of art. #ResultsInconclusive
"That's the goal of the game in Fez; you're putting these pieces of the universe back together to try and make it stable again. I basically always feel like the entire world is falling apart around me these days." - Phil Fish, maker of Fez.
"Super Meat Boy is a retro sort of platformer where you play as a boy with no skin. Who's just meat, basically. And he's trying to rescue his girlfriend - who's made of bandages - from an evil doctor that's a fetus, in a jar, wearing a top hat and monocle. Wearing a tuxedo." - Tommy Refens, member of Team Meat, makers of Super Meat Boy.
Why is this supposed to matter?
In order to really buy into this movie, you've got to buy into the premise that video games can rise to the level of art, that they can express something about their creators and about the world that connects with people and broadens our understanding of this complex, deeply joyful thing we call life. And you've got to buy into the premise that a deeply engaging, worthy work of art can be called something like Super Meat Boy.
If you can accept this, you'll find Indie Game: The Movie well worth an hour and a half of your time.
Does it actually matter?
The Netflix description kind of made me think I was going to be watching an underdog story - indie game makers fighting the man and what not. But Indie Game turns out to be more of a mad scientist movie. You watch four guys pour their life and love and sanity into 64-bit graphics, sacrificing sleep, health, and personal relationships until the success or failure of the game becomes their happiness.
About halfway or so through the movie, one of the documentary crew asks Phil Fish, maker of Fez, what he would do if the game never got released. (For those of you not up on your insider indie gaming news, Fez was a highly anticipated game that was delayed for years while Fish constantly tinkered with it.) Fish's answer? "I'd kill myself. That's my incentive to finish the game. Is to not kill myself."
This is disturbing on so many levels, and I nearly turned the movie off when I heard it. Because that kind of fanaticism toward a game (even if it is a work of art - and it is) is horrifying, making the ending of the movie, which is supposed to be a happy triumph, seem a lot more like a tragedy.
7 cold, frosty beers (out of 10)
What this movie did more than anything was make me ask myself whether the stuff I'm devoting my life to is really worth it. Like, I write stories about goblins all day, is that any better than Super Meat Boy? And the answer is no, it's not any better - unless there's a reason to do it beyond selling 20,000 copies of it on release day. Which is why I'm down on my knees most mornings, begging God to use every word.
And for that reexamination alone, it was worth watching.
Jordan Jeffers thinks the best video game ever is and always will be Heroes of Might and Magic III. Feel free to give him electronic encouragement via the little Facebook and Twitter buttons below. Peace.