If you’d been paying any attention to news and information going into PAX Prime, you had a good idea of what to expect. There would be some new levels or modes shown for big games like Assassin’s Creed III, Gears of War: Judgment or Halo 4. There would be hands-on time with Aliens: Colonial Marines and Borderlands 2 and of course all of this is why many people come to a show like PAX Prime.

But what became quietly noticeable at the Game Developers Conference this past year and more so at PAX Prime was the increase of independent game developers present at the show.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term “Indie”, different images come to mind. I think of words like “small”, “ fringe” or “unknown”. Sometimes even “cheap” or “poor-quality”.  It conjures images of three or four guys who are scruffy looking and unkempt in desperate need of sunshine and fresh air who are handing me a bootleg CD with their code on it asking me to “check it out.”

But as I walked the halls of PAX Prime, this image couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Companies like Klei Entertainment, Ska Studios, Carbon Games, Capybara Games, 17 Bit and 24 Carat Games to name a few were pulling out all the stops to showcase their latest titles.  Many of which, I was already familiar with in name but wasn’t aware of the creators behind it.

Games showcased while still “independent” were fun, engaging, and really had solid production quality.  Hearing some of the creative process behind a developed character or project encouraged me to want to know more about the game and get some game time while I had the chance.  A title may have a different art style or town, but doesn’t make it any less engaging a story or accessible gameplay experience than any of the other “Triple A” franchises that get released year after year.

One thing that did stand out as these developers showcased their work was the gleam in their eye or the hint of pride in their raspy, worn convention voices as they talked about their game.  Obviously I’m a sucker for a tale about creativity and these developers have it in spades when it comes to their products.

So support the independent game developer! Their games may not be filled with flashy, CGI movies or be supported by a voice cast from Hollywood’s A-list, but they will be fun, accessible, overflowing with personality and remind you what drew you to love video games in the first place. Independent game developers bring gaming back to the core of where it all started.

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