We've already flogged the "can video games be art" conversation to death. Now that we've determined the answer (yes, maybe, sometimes) it's time to move onto new arguments. One of the topics of conversation coming out of the Indie Game Maker Rant panel this afternoon was the question, "What makes an indie game indie?" Phil Fish, creator of the upcoming game Fez, used the session to go on a five-minute tirade against the inclusion of Pixel Junk Eden in the Independent Games Festival competition. He argued that though Q-Games is technically an independent studio its size, cozy relationship with Sony and veteran status of Dylan Cuthburt ("He created Starfox!) all should disqualify the game makers from entering the competition. He has a point. But so do others that suggest that the indie game community is very diverse encompassing both VC funded studios and kids who hack games together on TiG Source.
Maybe the most interesting part of this discussion is the idea of an indie aesthetic. We've already got this kind of thing happening in cinema. Movies like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine are crafted to feel independent, but they're the product of major movie studios (both released by Oscar machine Fox Searchlight). Games are poised to experience something similar. As indie games become more popular the big guys will try to find ways to co-opt the indie vibe -- transforming the idea of independent game making from a ethos to a brand. Sounds a little slimy when you word it that way. Fish won't be the last to bemoan the big kids party crashing the indie scene.