GameLoading: Rise of the Indies Review

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies Review

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies is a crowd-funded documentary that peers into the lives of indie game developers at various points in the creation of their art. While GameLoading is an interesting look at the independent games industry, and does a good job of capturing the euphoric highs and frustrating lows of development and marketing, it often feels fragmented and incomplete. Still, it’s definitely worth watching for anyone interested in indie games development or the gaming industry in general.

The directorial team of Lester Francois and Anna Brady manage to capture many aspects of indie games development from a wide angle, following many different subjects and game projects during GameLoading’s one-and-a-half-hour runtime. We get a peek behind the curtain as game designers like Davey Wredon and Will Pugh (The Stanley Parable) tweak aspects such as graphics, sound design, animation, and more, while offering some insight as to the creative process and origin of their exciting ideas.

The Stanley Parable is the title that gets the most focus, with the creators showing it off at PAX, releasing an online demo, and anxiously staring at their laptops as the game finally launches on Steam and positive reviews begin to pour in online. We even get to see the game’s success at the IGF Awards. While it’s nice that GameLoading offers a glimpse at a wide range of indie projects, I can’t help but feel that it would work better if it focused on just one or two games in a more personal matter.

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies rushes from game to game, person to person, country to country breathlessly, lacking an overall narrative focus to tie everything together nicely. Projects are glossed over quickly before moving onto the next shiny thing, and then briefly inserted into the story again later, as if the film’s creators were afraid of viewers becoming bored with any single game. A lot of the big players in the indie scene show up here, from Christine Love to Rami Ismael to Zoe Quinn (who a few people online seem to have formed an opinion about…), but none of them get enough screen time to really contribute much to the story or have the viewer form any sort of connection with them or their project.

GameLoading manages to squeeze in many different aspects of game creation during its runtime. We get to witness the excitement of a game’s launch, the disappointment of a mishandled marketing campaign, rage over stolen ideas, creative juices flowing during the collaborative Train Jam segment, online bullying and harassment, and more. But what the film really reflects is the limitless potential for the future of videogames, with the rise of crowdfunding and freely available creation tools. Industry vets like John Romero (id Software) pop in to voice their opinions on the current state of games development as well as what it was like trying to break into the industry years ago. While GameLoading could certainly be more focused and coherent, its overall message — with true passion and dedication, anything is possible — shines through clearly.

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