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Welcome, if You are Not Indie

The video is over the top. If you are not indie, you can still be forgiven, if you repent and confess your sins.
I have a perhaps naive view of my readers, and it's something like this: You love games. You sometimes despair at the conventional game market. You look to the fringes -- to indie games, to tabletop, to serious games and game for change, to anything outside of the industry mainstream -- to try to recapture the sense of wonder and bliss that games once wrought in you.

In other words, there is hardly an audience more "indie" than mine.

But are we to make of such as this?

The old punk* in me says: Right on, yer!

But only for about two seconds.

What this video is suggesting is that indie, as it connects to games, has something to do with, if you will, the punk aesthetic. The punk aesthetic is relentlessly anti-intellectual. It evolved in response to the pretension of groups like ELO, and prized the famous "three chords" of the Ramones. Stripping things down to the essentials produced kick-ass rock and roll. Fuck pretension.

And here I am: the advocate of pretension.

Just a couple of glancing points: The Ramones themselves proved remarkably articulate and intelligent. And the punk revolution was equally fuelled by art-house poseurs, like the Talking Heads, who treated the anti-intellectual pose ironically.

"Fuck you if you're not indie?" Well, yes. But no cross-cut against the jaw, surely. If you are a gamer, you've already made an important step: you understand the cultural and phenomenological importance of the game as the most vital modern medium. If you are not yet "indie," then, well, you have not yet grasped the intellectual and creative bankruptcy of the conventional retail form -- but you can be saved.

I will not sock you across the jaw.

Instead, I will seek to reason with you. Or, I might patronize you a bit, or mock your tastes, but violence really isn't an option. Except in boss battles, of course.

Really, what do that makers of this video think is "indie?" And are they really indie themselves, or are they simply mocking us?

It's kind of cool that a meme like this it out there at all; nothing like it existed, say, three years ago. A threnody of hipness, a note of confident self-justification, self-righteous rage at the smarmy self-satisfaction of conventional games: Good! 'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!

But really. The East Village, 1973, is not gaming in 2009. And Jonathan Blow, say, is not Joey Ramone, despite a certain similarity in Brechtian cool.

I, for one, promise never to slug you for failing to be indie.

*I refer to myself as an "old punk" above. I base this on the fact that in, say, 1973, I was within two blocks of CBGBs, where the Ramones first played. This is a total load of bollocks. I was within two blocks of CBGBs, because I was at a long-departed NYC institution known as "The Battleground."

Where I was playing D&D.

"Old geek" might be a better categorization. But of course, that depends on whether you think it would be cooler, in 1973, to hear the Ramones, or play D&D. Brown box edition. At the very inception of the revolution.

And where you come down on that divide may well say something about what "indie" means in our context.

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