Zen and the art of indie game designFebruary 12th, 2009 by Ben
Touch Arcade posted an article yesterday about the upcoming iPhone game Zen Bound. Besides looking pretty frickin’ slick, Zen Bound is notable because it’s aiming at the increasingly popular zen-influenced approach to indie gaming (There is no spoon).
I put this in the same category as other non-traditional games like Jenova Chen’s Cloud and flOw, and, to some extent, Crayon Physics (though it’s more of a traditional puzzle game). These games are all characterized by a deliberate attempt to avoid the traditional trappings of commercial video games (or even the general concept of gaming). They aren’t violent or particularly goal-driven, and they don’t present situations where winning something is the player’s primary motivation.
Games like this are appealing to me from a design perspective because of their counter-cultural tendencies. What’s the best way to create an interactive experience that explores more than the adrenaline rush of today’s big-budget games? Make something that moves slowly and doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a distinctly indie thought process, and it works perfectly for small projects. The focus is on quality on a small scale, doing one thing well and for its own sake.
I don’t know if any of these designers will ever strike it rich, but that’s probably not the point. The point, I suppose, is that there is no point.