IndieCade, dubbed the “Sundance of games” launched in 2007 as an alternative to the mainstream video game industry. Since its inaugural festival in 2008, it has grown exponentially to become an integral part of today’s vibrant indie game scene. IndieCade: A History — The Interdependence of Independents chronicles the story of IndieCade as told by one of its three co-founders—its modest beginnings and evolving role in the larger independent games ecosystem over its decade-plus history. More broadly, it situates IndieCade within a historical context, looking at the various factors of the indie ecosystem that have contributed to making independent games writ large such a major force in today’s video game industry. Lushly illustrated with photographs and archival material, IndieCade: A History captures the experience of being part of a blossoming and resilient “community of play and practice.” Building on the growing body of “indie game studies” scholarship, it argues that independence is ultimately sustainable only through interdependence.
Over the past 15 years, indie games have exploded from a tiny niche audience (mostly comprising other developers) to a mainstream, public-facing phenomenon. Recent studies have indicated that close to half of game developers considered themselves indie, a figure that has fluctuated little since it was first reported in 2014 at the peak of the so-called “indie bubble.” Far from a passing fad, indie games, like indie films, have become a significant sector of the mainstream market. However, the rise of indie games has not taken place in a vacuum. A number of other cultural, economic and technical factors are at play, such as online distribution, platform proliferation, crowdsourcing, and the rise of game programs in universities. For instance, games have been the top Kickstarter category since the platform’s inception, and are the leading category in the iOS App store. Indie games have driven the sales of established platforms, such as PlaySation and Nintendo, as well as emerging technologies, such as Oculus Rift. As a “cultural intermediary,” IndieCade has served as a hub between the various factors of the indie ecosystem, making it the ideal case study for exploring the larger, complex systems with which it intersects. As such, it provides not only a history of IndieCade but a wider view of the evolution of indie games as a vital creative and economic force.