AFTER TWO SUCCESSFUL Kickstarters (directors James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot asked for $50,000, and their 1,893 backers gave them $94,676) and a featured screening at Portland's techy/artsy XOXO Fest, Indie Game: The Movie has finally landed on Netflix Instant. If you're wanting to see something videogame-related this weekend, you've got two choices: a big, 3D, marketed-to-hell Disney movie in theaters (Wreck-It Ralph, reviewed this issue), or Indie Game: The Movie. Wreck-It Ralph is great if you (A) are five, or (B) want to catch a bunch of references to the NES days of your childhood. Indie Game, on the other hand, is great if you're interested in how things are created. And okay, fine, also if you want to catch a few references to the NES days of your childhood.
Because while Indie Game: The Movie hits the sweet spot for gamers—it gives some excellent behind-the-scenes info on some of the best and most artful games in recent memory, including Braid, Fez, and Super Meat Boy—it's about bigger stuff too: The challenges of making art, the greater challenges of making art under deadlines, how paralyzing self-doubt and giddy enthusiasm go hand-in-hand whenever you pour your everything into something that might implode. Indie Game follows Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes as they put the finishing touches on their game Super Meat Boy; Phil Fish as he deals with the pressure of getting out his long-delayed, eagerly anticipated Fez; and Braid creator Jonathan Blow as he reflects on the game that gave him instant success, respect, and fame—and plenty of problems. There's a lot of footage of these various geeks hunched over their keyboards, pushing pixels and scrolling through code, but Indie Game isn't content to simply document their process: It asks questions about why these guys create, why they create what they do, and what they'll do if they fail. Regardless of whether you play games, it's fascinating stuff, sad and funny and stressful and human. And once it's over, you're going to want to fire up Braid, or Fez, or Super Meat Boy. Or maybe that old NES you've got packed away somewhere.