Ten years ago if you asked any avid video gamer what their favourite independent game was, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you. However, with the internet enabling small teams and individuals to publish their games online, this question today would get many different responses.
Much of the discussion these days is not only from large developers, but also from small communities that exist beyond the popular games you see in stores.
Play testers, students, critics, journalists and aspiring game developers are banding together to help indie games thrive, pushing them to success and possibly even fame.
This community has been building in Adelaide over recent years and consists mostly of students, small independent companies, groups and individuals.
Last year a small group created ARGGGH (Adelaide’s Really Good Gathering of Game Developers), a platform for avid game developers to network, socialise, show-off their games and kick back with a few beers in The Goody Pub at Goodwood.
The pub is a meeting place for local developers to network, share resources, celebrate victories and introduce new people into the community.
Another relatively unknown event is the Indie Games Room (IGR) held in July as part of AVCon, Australia’s largest anime and video game convention. IGR allows local developers from around Australia to showcase their games to thousands of anime and video game fans. Developers bring their machines, decorate their booths and even dress up as characters from their games. Last year thirty games were on show, most developed in Adelaide by independent teams.
Such is the success of these small groups that they have now begun popping up at local universities.
UniSA has the South Australian Game Makers Association (SAGMA), a club for members who want to learn about game development. SAGMA is also working on several large-scale games and plans to form development companies in the future.
Similarly, the University of Adelaide has a club called Jamalaide, which regularly holds events known as game jams. Students are challenged to make small theme-specific games in 48 hours. Game jams are open to all students and at the end of each session everyone plays each others’ creations and offers advice. It’s an intense, fun experience and a novel way for game developers to improve their skills.
So why am I telling you all of this?
The indie game community will always depend on the people involved. The local scene is growing and will continue to do so. If you have an interest in developing games, especially independently, then check out the groups and events mentioned.
It’s an open community and it’s a great experience, so give it a go.
If you would like to play some of the games that local developers have produced, look for Gem Thief, Pilot Winds and Gelati Safari on the App Store, or Critical Mass released on Steam. To join SAGMA, visit sa-gma.org, Jamalaide www.jamalaide.org.au.