Although independent game development is probably as old as PC gaming itself, indie games have been exploding critically and commercially as of late, and indie development is slowly becoming a more popular and accessible activity.
Services like the XBox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, WiiWare and Steam are creating a niche for smaller, artful titles that are far less expensive than average triple-A gaming fare and allow indie developers to gain widespread visibility and make a name for themselves. Games like Bastion, Braid, World of Goo, Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac and Limbo started out on these services and eventually achieved great success.
Valve's Steam Greenlight, in particular, is a project through which the gamer community itself can help promote and support games they feel are worthy. A notable example is the recently-released viral hit Surgeon Simulator 2013. Some developers are looking to Kickstarter, as well, as a means to fund their ventures directly through the community and bypassing big-name publishers entirely. FTL: Faster than Light is an example of this.
IGN named the indie PSN title Journey as their best game of 2012, beating out, among others, indie critical darling The Walking Dead. But perhaps the most notable independent game of recent times is Minecraft, an addictive sandbox which started as an idea in the head of one Swedish game programmer and has since become ubiquitous in gaming culture.
What are some indie games you all like?
Off the top of my head, I'm particularly crazy about Bastion, World of Goo, Psychonauts, Hotline Miami, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and FTL.
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