Spotlight on Indie Issue #5: What Makes Playing Inexpensive or Free Indie Games So Awesome?

Spotlight on Indie Issue #5: What Makes Playing Inexpensive or Free Indie Games So Awesome?
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The Phenomenon of Indie Gaming

Let it be known that there is no scene more exclusive in video games than the indie gaming scene. Much like the indie music culture, indie gaming culture is a small, tight knit community of gamers who appreciate something a little different and lot less expensive as opposed to the mainstream $60 trend that has built the modern era of gaming. As an indie gamer, I admit that I feel like a member of some special, super-secret society of video game players. It’s a society that understands the mainstream but also knows a little more. The wonderful indie scene is like an underground phenomenon, and it is built up of determined designers and stellar games.

But why is indie gaming so important? Or rather, why should people care about indie gaming? I’ll be blunt. Indie games are small in scale, but massive in the work and dedication that goes into them. Playing indie games is freaking awesome, and I’m going to tell you why you should take some time off from Call of Duty: Black Ops and Super Mario Galaxy and play some indie games if you already haven’t.


Cave Story, one of the most beloved indie games of all time got its start as a freeware download.

If you’ve ever surfed the Internet looking for free games to play, it’s likely you’ve stumbled on some heavy, stinking, rotten heaps of poorly crafted Flash games. While there is plenty of free shovelware to go around, there are also some excellent titles. Free indie games such as Alex Adventure, Ninja Senki, Runman: Race Around the World, and Time Fcuk all provide impressive gaming experiences that will challenge you, puzzle you, and keep you busy for quite some time. There’s nothing quite like stumbling upon a memorable indie game on the Internet and realizing just what you were missing out on.

One of the most iconic indie games of all time, Cave Story, managed to garner a massive fan base back in 2004 for its fluid side-scrolling action-adventure gameplay. The game became so successful that it has already found a home on WiiWare and DSiWare, and it is currently slated for launch on the 3DS. Personally, I think this is the type of game worth spending money on, so I’d suggest anyone with some spare cash to actually invest in the WiiWare or DSiWare versions of the game. Of course, if you’re on a tight budget (or you’re terrifyingly cheap), you can always download this classic for free online.


Have you played VVVVVV? If not, you really should.

If you do have cash in those pockets of yours and feel like expanding your options, there are countless indie games that can cost you as low as $5. Super Meat Boy by the iconic Edmund McMillen and chick chick BOOM by tons of bits are two great examples of inexpensive indie games with loads of entertainment for gamers willing to shell out a small sum. Cthulhu Saves the World on Xbox Live Indie Games is another example, as is VVVVVV, and you can rest assured that there are countless others. You just need to know where to look. Check out Internet forums, get in contact with indie developers (they’re fairly accessible), or do some browsing on different sites. You could score a game as satisfying as a $60 release for just $10.

Supports Small Developers

Even indie games where all you do is die are incredibly charming.

Unless you’re a disgruntled ogre, you probably enjoy helping others out. Playing indie games helps small developers gain notoriety in the massive gaming industry. Obviously, purchasing budget-priced titles helps small-scale game designers make a living, but even if you just play free indie games, you’re helping a small company or individual get some recognition, which can lead to more games from that some person or group of people. Major publishers and developers need supporters in order to churn out sequels to major IPs, so you can imagine the following and fan support that small developers such as tons of bits and Halfbot could use. Every download, every comment, and every “like” on Facebook goes a long way in helping these indie devs succeed in the industry.


Indie games often offer something different and unique from mainstream games.

Most indie developers aren’t tied down by major publishers, so they can pretty much do whatever they want (just look at “The C Word” by Edmund McMillen). That’s not to say these individuals take their job lightly. Quite the contrary. Because indie devs aren’t marred by boundaries, they often take advantage of this and create thoroughly unique games with different gameplay elements from most of what’s out there. Additionally, because their main constraint is a low amount of funding, indie game designers need to make do with that they have. The result: quality titles that hark back to puzzlers and platformers on the NES, SNES, and Genesis. Whether you’re looking for a throwback to the ‘80s or a game with exciting elements that you’ve never seen before, you’re bound to find something totally different in the indie gaming scene.

Play Some Indie Games, Will Ya!

Indie gaming is a wonderful, unique, and impressive venture in the video game industry. Explore the realm of the indie scene for one day, and you’re bound to discover some shiny little gems. Titles such as Cave Story and Spelunky have done a great job of pushing the medium forward, now it’s up to gamers to shine an even brighter light on it. Try something new, play something inexpensive (or free), raise awareness on small developers, and help out the indie gaming scene. You’re bound to find something you like, and you’ll have a blast the entire time.