Indie Video Games

Indie Video Games

Video games like "Skyrim" and "Call of Duty" often earn more money than Hollywood blockbusters. But innovation in the gaming industry often comes from smaller players...

With blockbuster releases like Skyrim and Call of Duty, today's big video game companies rival big Hollywood studios in sales and clout within the entertainment industry. But many of the most innovative and successful games come from small independent companies. We explore advances in technology and storytelling in the indie gaming world.


Deborah Solomon

Professor and Coordinator of the Computer Gaming and Simulation Program, Montgomery College

James Portnow

Independent Video Game developer; CEO, Rainmaker Games; co-host, Extra Credits

Keith Shepherd

Co-cowner, Imangi Studios

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Major video game studios often invest tens of millions of dollars to push the technological envelope and create immersive virtual worlds. But many of the most popular and innovative new video games come from smaller, independent companies with significantly smaller budgets.

James Portnow is a co-creator and writer for Extra Credits, a weekly web series that explores the nuts and bolts and philosophical underpinnings of video games. One of his collaborators, Daniel Floyd, argues that video games are pioneering new and exciting platforms for storytelling

New, Innovative Games

The folks at Extra Credits offered suggestions for recent interesting games you might not have heard of, or tried - loosely categorized by genre. Among the games they highlighted:

  1. Super Crate Box:

  1. Everyday The Same Dream

Portnow also recommends The Stanley Parable, an "experimental narrative-driven first person game," that explores choice, freedom, storytelling and reality, "through the lens of what it means to play a video game":

Mobile Games

Keith Shephard is co-owner of Imangi Studios, a DC-based video game developer on the iOS mobile platform. Imangi's Temple Run, was recently ranked as the number one free game on the Apple App Marketplace. His list of interesting and noteworthy mobile games includes:

  1. Tiny Tower

  1. Zombie Gunship
  2. Sword and Sworcery
  3. Tiny Wings
  4. Mega Jump

Games for Kids / Immersive Worlds /Games with a Conscience

Deborah Solomon is coordinator of the Computer Gaming & Simulation Program at Montgomery College. Her list of interesting games includes:

  1. Dragonvale: An Indie kids game (on the iOS and Android platforms) about hatching and caring for dragons on floating island worlds
  2. Stack the States & Stack the Countries: a fun way to learn US states & capitals
  3. Solar 2: a short but compelling indie game, where you start as an asteroid, crash into other asteroids to form a planet, and finally turn into a black hole that absorbs other solar systems

  1. Gamestar mechanic: an indie game and also a game building program for elementary & middle school kids.
  2. Food Force: A Facebook game by the World Food Programme (developed by Konami). Farm crops, prepare goods, deliver food, and respond to crises around the globe, while generating donations for international aid.
  3. A simple online trivia game created by an independent developer and donated to the UN World Food Program – for each correct answer they donate 10 grains of rice to end world hunger. Quiz topics include languages, geography, math, chemistry, art and literature. $94 billion grains of rice donated.

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