Some perceive punk as a straightforward subculture. Subculture of anarchy. An inner circle which over the years allowed youth to express its dismay against governing bodies around the world. Bold and highly dysfunctional, punk has been publicly disregarded for its chaotic nature and ill mannerism. Its figures have been persecuted and oppressed by both governments and the public itself. However, due to it’s very nature it have transformed, and adapted to spread its message. A message some perceive as false.
John Lydon of Sex Pistols, the forefather of Punk, on many occasions expressed his disappointment for the culture he has helped creating. While agreeing that the message Sex Pistols have spread globally is more or less accurate, he also added that people who are at the front line of the social fight are not much different from their opposition. The rugged appearance of tartan and safety pins have spread through the masses like a disease, creating a proverbial clones that mimic each others behavior. Ultimately the subculture adopted the structure of the governments it was opposing, resulting in degradation of the Punk itself. The diversity that bands such as The Sex Pistols or Dead Kennedys have fought for disappeared with time.
Rise of the indies
With behemoths the likes of Rockstar Games and Naughty Dog, the market has been dominated by the developers of indistinguishable statue. With vast teams and extraordinary budgets, such developers have been releasing triple A games on a regular basis. And while the giants have basked in the light of glory and success, smaller personas have started to emerge and take to development of their own titles.
Edmund McMillen, known for Flash games such as Aether and Meat Boy struck gold for the first time in 2010. In cooperation with Tommy Refenes, McMillen designed and published Super Meat Boy. The ingenuity of the title and progressively increasing difficulty were the deciding factors in its success. Super Meat Boy not only reinvented the genre, but it also managed to strong arm a multitude of bigger titles and claim its superiority in terms of sales. At the time Super Meat Boy was an abnormality, it was the mortal amongst gods, and the long sought Punk.
Edmund McMillen, alongside his newest creation, has revolutionized the mainstream market. In the same way the governments of the 70’s and the 80’s had to acknowledge Punk Rock, now the major developers had to acknowledge Edmund McMillen. Commercial success of such scale could deter many from future indie endeavors, but the creator of Super Meat Boy was not deterred by such.
Just a year after the release of Super Meat Boy, McMillen launched his next title: The Binding of Isaac. McMillen’s second major creation not only diversified itself from the industry but also from his previous works. A macabre, top down rogue-like, the title not only proved that separation from mainstream subsidiaries of the industry can support the creative process, but also that it allows the developers to finalize their vision through exclusion of investors and supervisory bodies.
Edmund McMillen has proven how much a single man, with a support of a handful of people can achieve as long as he is committed to the project. And if it was an article on achievements of a single man, such summary would be fitting. However same as the Punk Rock movement, the Indie scene is much larger than a single man.
Another great example of this rebellious phenomena is Dennaton Games. The studio is a creation of two developers, programmer Jonatan Söderström and artist Dennis Weddin. And the creations that was born as a result of their cooperation have only further fueled the fire of the Indie Movement. Erratically violent, Hotline Miami was a simple top down action game, where your success hinged purely on your personal reflexes and a single mistake resulted in a brutal yet poetic death. The game sends you on multiple missions and expects you to mindlessly kill the undesirables of the titular metropolis. However, with progress, the motives slowly disappear and you caught yourself murdering legions out of pure pleasure.
Extorting the true nature of certain Individuals
In a way Hotline Miami was capable of extorting the true nature out of certain individuals, as many would frantically eviscerate their targets with a psychotic smile on their face. And this is what made the game unique. Unlike the creations of McMillen, Hotline Miami didn’t strive to appeal to the wider audiences. The developers simply wanted to attract and create a sect-like following who would appreciate the game for what it was and not for what its was trying to be. Söderström and Weddin wanted it to remain a simple action game, but a game that turned its recipients into animals through exposition of their basic human emotions.
Between the modern Indie movement, and the Punks of the 20th century, McMillen and Dennaton have both created games that are simply unique. Games that couldn’t be possibly compared to any other title of our time. Their ingenuity exposes the unscathed beauty of video games, beauty that has been consumed by the giants of the industry but, same as the Punks, Indies are fighting to bring the diversity back to the industry.