I watched a great documentary last night about the guys behind games such as “Fez” and “Super Meat Boy.” Now, I’m not a gamer in the least, though I do have a nostalgic spot for the days of the orignal “Super Mario Bros.” and “Legend of Zelda.” So this doc appealed to me on that level, but mainly because it’s really a story about the creative process — the moments of inspiration and despair, the drive to make something that connects with people, and the inevitable let down after it’s all over and you start on the next idea.
It also shows how the online world is completely changing how creative people can share their ideas with others much more easily without having to deal with a big game company to produce their game. These guys are in control of their creations, and get all the accolades and criticism that come along with it. There is a great scene where Phil Fish (the creator of “Fez”) addresses the fact that his game has taken years and years to develop and still hasn’t come out. He was getting a lot of flack on the internet for it. His response was basically that it’s just him and one other guy doing EVERYTHING. The creative, the programming, the business end, etc. I could definitely relate to that coming off of book 1 of Korra and people already demanding to see Book 2 –– and we have hundreds of people working on the show! But it still takes a long time to make anything of quality, whether it’s a video game or a tv show or a book.
The thing that surprised me most was how personal these games were to their creators. The way they talked about creating something that connects to people is the same way I feel about creating stories in the Avatar world. These games are an expression of who their creators are. I loved the heart-breaking story behind “Super Meat Boy” — he’s just a red, fleshless square that must survive the harsh elements of the world as he tries to reunited with his girlfriend, who is made of bandages. Edmund McMillen, the creator, basically described it as a metaphor for his relationship with his wife. On the surface, it looks like silly, fun entertainment, but there is a deeper meaning behind it, which is why I think it ended up becoming a really popular game. People relate to this little hunk of flesh that is easily damaged by the outside world.
Create fearlessly. Follow your passion. Persevere through the difficult times. This is what I learned from a little documentary about indie video games. And now I want to play them too!