Some indie developers fear that, once broadened, the "indie" label risks losing its association with the financial independence that often makes experimentation possible, becoming just another sales tactic in the same way big record companies looted the "grunge" and "emo" genres to sell otherwise mainstream music. Crayon Physics Deluxe's Petri fears the worst. "I think indie games are going to become a 'genre' of games," he says. "And the 'genre' doesn't have anything to do with independence or budgets, but it's mainly something marketing people have coined so they can sell artsy stuff." Samyn and Harvey are similarly pessimistic: "As profits of indie games rise, so will the interest in the format from bigger, even more commercial companies. Soon, the big corporations will start making 'indie-style' games and they will push the real indies out of the market. This is unavoidable in the current shark-eat-shark climate." Blueberry Garden's Erik Svedäng is blunt about how he sees the future of indie gaming, a term he says he's already sick of hearing. "I think the people who put their soul into moving the art form forward will survive," he says. "Anyone not trying to do that is wasting their time, so I don't mind if they fail."


But behind all the various definitions of and justifications for being indie, the common thread is that videogames as an art form can and should be better, and the industry needs people dedicated to experimenting and innovating. Whether those people are making money or going broke, staying independent or selling out, what's important is that through this process games are exploring new territory and people are doing what they love. "I don't think indie games are some kind of temporary bubble that will burst and eventually we all move back to playing blockbusters," Svedäng continues. "Games are here to stay, in all sizes, shapes and tastes you can imagine."

Chris LaVigne writes a technology column for Maisonneuve magazine and wrote about indie games for The Escapist in Issue 139.

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