IndieCade and Museum of the Moving Image present a playable exhibition of significant independent video games representing the breadth and depth of “indie”: recent cutting-edge titles, including the IndieCade 2013 award winners, alongside a selection of games from the last decade that have had great impact on game design and culture. The designers and developers of these games, individuals or small teams independent of large studios and publishers, take daring creative risks to explore new forms and methods of play. Independent games are a fountain of innovation and experimentation, pushing games forward as one of today’s most dynamic and important cultural forms. Indie Essentials offers visitors a unique opportunity to discover and revisit innovations in independent game play.
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A 2-D side-scrolling shooter notable for its comic book visual aesthetic, arcade-style gameplay, difficult levels, and quirky sense of humor. The game’s online success encouraged developers to port it to Xbox
A critically acclaimed puzzle platformer notable for its painterly style and unique time-control mechanics that address narrative themes of causality, desire, and regret.
Canabalt pioneered the endless runner genre, which uses procedural level generation to dynamically create a different level every play. Though it was originally built for PC, the game was an early iOS success.
Forgoing most game conventions, Dear Esther applies the interactive conventions of a first person shooter to craft a non-linear narrative. The game’s atmospheric visuals and haunting score composed by Jessica Curry envelope players in a lonely and isolated world.
Credited with popularizing the time management genre in video games, Diner Dash places players in a fast-paced system where they must prioritize tasks to make as much money for the restaurant as possible.
A roleplaying tabletop game about colonialism and its consequences. Players explore systems of power and complicity as they dive into themes of occupation, resistance, and assimilation.
A traditional shooter placed in the context of a musical album, each level plays a new song that works in congress with the level’s unique visual design, sound design, and puzzle mechanic. The result is an aesthetically cohesive experience, rooted in a conventional genre.
A meditative game in which the player controls the wind, guiding petals to bring life, color, and light to a dark and devastated landscape. Flower’s vivid graphics, simple gameplay, and accessible controls made it popular among gamers and nongamers alike.
An interactive story, in which the player explores a domestic environment to slowly uncover the history of the family who lived there.
A magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky. The game’s evocative visual design, distinct setting, and original music appropriate the common point and click mechanic to expose characters’ inner emotions.
A ten-player real time strategy arcade game, fully realized with a gigantic back-to-back custom arcade cabinet for up to 5 players on each team, creates a complex interplay between teamwork, offense, and defense.
This point-and-click adventure game is notable for its dream logic and distinctive hand-drawn aesthetic—the player solves puzzles hidden in the game’s visual design to advance the story.
In the popular open world game Minecraft, players can explore and craft structures in a 3-D environment made of simple, recombinable building blocks.
A minimalist single-screen puzzle platformer with more than 100 notoriously difficult levels, where death is frequent and dramatic.
A five-minute game in which the player navigates a lifetime of obstacles and choices, Passage uses low-resolution graphics and audio to enhance its visual and mechanical metaphors, creating a deeply affecting and emotional experience.
An atmospheric gothic horror story, based on Little Red Riding Hood that uses careful level design to misdirect and manipulate the player into violating the game’s one instruction.
A collection of experiments, statements, tricks, stories, and games that explore the edges of poetry and interactivity.
A hacking game about analyzing, manipulating, and defeating systems set in a cyberpunk world.
In this Flash game—notorious for its frustrating yet addictive gameplay—the leg muscles of a virtual athlete are mapped to individual keys that the player must carefully coordinate to move the character forward.
A strategic, capture-the-flag game in which two opposing pairs of players dual as ninjas, Slash Dash is part of the recent popular rebirth of local multiplayer games.
Focusing on shared physical space rather than virtual space, players work together a team of spaceship personnel, shouting nonsensical instructions to each other as they race to keep their ship from falling apart.
A 2-D puzzle platformer set deep underground, notable for its randomly generated levels that make no two play throughs the same.
A party game for two to eight players, Spin the Bottle’s creative use of the Wii platform and its controllers show how independent developers are creating innovative play experiences for gaming consoles.
An interactive poem in which the player must interact with words, objects, and characters to save a drowning girl.
An archery combat platformer with easy-to-learn rules and high-energy action, where up to four players battle with bows and arrows.
World of Goo, an engaging physics-driven puzzle game where players manipulate squirming globs of goo, achieved widespread success on mobile devices because of its natural user interface.