Kellee Santiago

New documentary focuses on the struggle of making independent games

Devolver Digital has published a new documentary on Steam called Surviving Indie. The idea of the documentary is to bring more attention to the struggle of being an independent game maker. In some ways, it feels like it might be a response to Indie Game: The Movie, which has been criticized by some since its release in 2012 for glorifying the vocation given that it mainly followed three successful game makers: Jonathan Blow, Edmund McMillen, and Phil Fish. What Surviving Indie sets out to do is to get game makers “with varying outcomes of success and failure” to talk about their struggles and…

From Darkness

From Darkness, an interactive documentary about African refugees

The keyword for the Austrian art group goldextra is “experience.” The group presented its online multiplayer game Frontiers with a sentence that fed this idea: “Don’t just watch, experience the news yourself.” Frontiers had virtual recreations of spaces in the Sahara, southern Spain, and Rotterdam so that players could get familiar with the environments that formed the refugee’s journey. The virtuality of the videogame format acts as a surrogate experience for the player—the second-best thing to actually going to these locations and speaking to the people there firsthand. Goldextra’s latest game dives further into this idea. Called From Darkness, it’s an interactive documentary about the…


A short documentary about the future of women in videogames

When Laila Shabir moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to start school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her Pakistani father told her to live her life as if she were a young man—to live her life without fear, something young women around the globe aren’t always taught. Shabir is the founder of Girls Make Games, a series of international summer camps put on by educational company LearnDistrict aimed at teaching girls the skills needed to make videogames. Camps were first introduced in the United States and later went global. Shabir discussed the organization in Girls Level Up, a recent short documentary made as…


The Oxenfree alternate reality game you probably didn’t know about

It all began with a phone number hidden within Oxenfree’s in-game radio stations, or “anomalies.” When called, it played the song “Beacon Beach,” by artist scntfc, the composer behind the game’s soundtrack. Well, so what? Go back and listen again and you’ll find lines of morse code in the song, with messages such as “Maggie,” “All is lost,” and most interestingly, “Search Twitter 4 num.” Internet sleuths looking the number up on Twitter found a cryptic profile, and so began Oxenfree’s alternate reality game (ARG) set out by the creators of the supernatural teen drama at Night School Studio. the discovery of a…

Project Tingle

Zoe Quinn’s making an erotic-comedy FMV game, includes sexy unicorns

Chocolate milk cowboys. Velociraptor billionaires. Unicorn butt cops. Bigfoot pirates. These creations are the basis for the works of erotic novelist Chuck Tingle. “The Tingler”—the name Chuck gives to his erotic books—are also the foundation for the newest game from Depression Quest (2013) creator Zoe Quinn. What type of game do you make when you’re inspired by the works of a man who wrote the sensationally titled Pounded By the Pound: Turned Gay by the Socioeconomic Implications of Britain Leaving the European Union, or the Hugo-award-nominated Space Raptor Butt Invasion? An FMV game, naturally. You can’t just Tingle the body. You’ve…

Branching Paths

New documentary hopes the “indie” game invasion of Japan is a good thing

One of the first things that Anne Ferrero says to me is that her new documentary isn’t “Indie Game: The Movie [2012] in Japan.” She tells me this as she’s aware that many people will assume that to be the case. But it’s not just a matter of a director looking to ensure that her potential audience isn’t misled: there’s a lot more to it. Much of it is summed up by one of Ferrero’s interview subjects in the documentary, Alexander De Giorgio, the chief organizer of Tokyo Indie Fest. “I think it’s dangerous to try and compare the Japanese indie…

SRC 1515

Short documentary details the creation of a “fine art videogame”

“What do you get when you take a painter with a penchant for the peculiar and a programmer fluent in pixels?” That is the question posed by JJ Walker’s short documentary, Canvas+Code, which follows Ryan Ford and Brad Henderson, the painter and programmer that make up Globhammer. The documentary has been out for a few days now, and is currently available to watch on Vimeo. The seven-minute-long short film gives viewers a brief look at the duo, with both sharing small details about how they met, their respective thoughts on art and videogames, and just what, exactly, Globhammer means. “When I said [Globhammer], I…


The loneliness of the professional gamer

If you haven’t heard of Jonathan Sutak, producer and director of The Foreigner, a new documentary about professional StarCraft II (2010), you can take solace in knowing that you’ve probably seen some of his work. Not, mind you, the two independent dramas—Up The River (2015), a romance, and Don’t Worry Baby (2015), a comedy—he’s produced; you haven’t seen those. What you have seen are the many trailers and TV spots he’s edited, for films as far afield as Everest (2015) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). If not exactly a Hollywood insider, Sutak nevertheless approaches filmmaking from the perspective of…


Documentary outlines how Cities: Skylines is being used to plan real cities

Having enjoyed a brief sneak-peek at Austin, Texas’ SXSW art and technology festival last weekend, My Urban Playground is an upcoming documentary from game publisher Paradox Interactive that tells the story of popular city-building game, Cities: Skylines (2015), and the fans who are using it to plan real-world architecture projects. Set over the two years leading up to and following the game’s release, the documentary is planned to cover how architects, politicians, and fans of the game have come together to create new real-world building initiatives. Additionally, the film will also feature interviews with United Nations development group UN-Habitat, which helps struggling…