After the widespread success of Braid
, Sword & Sorcery
, (etc. etc. etc.) and the fact that there are over 10,000 games in development listed on sites like Indie DB
, It has become obvious that we are in the middle of some sort of indie game renaissance.
There are a number of converging causes for this bloom in the indie games scene, but a large part of it has been the change in the audiences perception of games. Playing games used to be the social equivalent of masturbation. It was deemed to be exclusively performed by sweaty, teenage nerds and you would rarely reveal your obsession with it unless you were absolutely certain you were talking to someone with the same affliction.
As misguided as these social conventions were, it was great for the games. Developers barely even understood the meaning of the words 'focus group' or 'target market' and as a result they were largely focused on making games. Production costs were low, and the user base was fanatical so developers could afford to take risks.That all changed with the advent of Sony's PlayStation though.
Sony positioned their console as something modern, something mature and most dangerously, something cool. Needless to say it was explosively successful. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox continued the invasion into the territory of social acceptance and any doubt was put to rest with the most recent generation of consoles.
Games are such big business now that Grand Theft Auto IV
famously broke the Guinness world record for "Highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours". It made roughly $310 million on its first day. There is so much money to be made from mainstream games that big developers have staved away from smaller projects.
This has happened at a peculiar juncture in the industry's history. Right now, making small scale games has never been cheaper, the audience has never been larger and (thanks to digital distribution) publishing has never been easier. It just so happens that most of the 'nerds' who grew up loving video games are in their late 20's and early 30's now as well (about the same age Miyamoto was when he was making Super Mario Bros.)
We have a perfect storm brewing that is about to throw us the Sofia Coppolas, the Tarrantinos, the Wes Andersons and Coen brothers of the gaming industry.