Hi! My name is Andrew and this year I started Indiepocalypse, a monthly indie game anthology that pays its contributors. Each issue features ten developers, who can include multiple games, along with a PDF zine highlighting each game in the anthology with a page made by each developer or by me on their behalf. The zine features a cover made by an artist outside the world of games and starting with the June issue, comics and a feature on Japanese obscurities. I plan to expand the scope of the zine in time to an indie game / weird art zine each month as different parts of the anthology become more reliable and require less of my active attention.
The origins of the idea for an indie game anthology first came to me when I attended the Toronto Comics Arts Festival as part of the Comics x Games. Shortly after I was accepted I had the thought: “You know, comic artists attending this show are going to at least break even. Why am I going spending all this money on what is essentially potential exposure?”
Anthologies and other forms of collective publishing have existed in other mediums for decades and continue to thrive well into the present, so why in the games did they seem to not even exist? Bundles of games exist, but these are not really publishing platforms, unified identities. Also, in some cases they increasingly tend towards known quantities over emerging and unknown artists. They often are about more products for consumers instead of being collections of art. So I started saying that someone should make it. Then I said that I should make it. And then eventually I had told enough people about it that I felt responsible for it.
One of the initial motivating factors for starting the anthology were actually my own frustrations in game making. I have countless abandoned projects lying around because I would keep striving to make a ‘successful’ game, but I lost the desire to commit years to a single project necessary to make what people expected out of even an independently produced game. So I said: “If the market for what I wanted to do does not exist, I will just make it myself!” Video games are largely based around this year’s long all-or-nothing gamble to produce something that meets the expectation of a ‘length equals value’ market. I have come to resent the idea that the length of something has anything to do with its value or worth or whatever.
Right now, games are built around a highly commercial culture, even for what is considered to be indie. A tidy world of press releases and media reveals. When indies are not expected to fight for AAA space, then they are expected to emulate it – including the costs.
There is an expectation to exhibit at trade shows, which cost money in terms for entry and travel costs. There are indie-focused shows where you pay to be considered so that you may later pay to be included. In my experience indie game developers barely have the notion of ridiculing the idea of “for exposure”, because exposure is what this whole broken art form revolves around. It sucks! One of the entrants for Indiepocalypse expected to pay me to be included. This makes money a huge barrier to entry, even more so for those who do not live near any game events.
I want to create a world that does not revolve around the ten to twenty events each year. I want there to be endless opportunities for indie developers to fail. And that will be fine, because there are countless more opportunities around the corner. There need to be opportunities that pay indies. I want them to be able to sell an hour long game for fifteen bucks to an audience that does not think twice about it.
Most importantly I want Indiepocalypse to be a platform for unheard voices. I am lucky that the anthology so far has been very naturally diverse in both content and – so far as I can tell – creators. I want this project to be a haven for the expression and exploration of what games can be. Hopefully other people want that to.