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What made you become an indie? Or if not, what stopped you?
by Daniel Fedor on 08/27/11 01:35:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Recently, I read the article http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/08/experience-going-indie.ars. In it, interviewees cite their reasons for leaving mainstream game developers to become indies. As I read, I wondered. "Which are the strongest motivators for becoming an indie game developer? Are most developers looking for the same things in their work? What barriers are preventing them from becoming an indie? And what can studios learn from indies to make a better home for developers?"

This is a topic near to my heart, as I recently made the transition from mainstream to indie dev as well. I had some very strong feelings which motivated my move, but were they mine alone? Reading the above article, as well as the many indie interviews and blogs, reveals many of the same motivations. Maybe there is some useful information in this topic, for indies and studios alike?

I searched a bit for statistics on this data, but when I didn't find any, I decided to put something together myself. This survey is intended to illustrate which are the stronger vs. weaker motivators for becoming an indie developer. The questions and responses are written based on the above article, various indie start-up interviews, and anecdotal observations.

The survey can be found here:

Motivations for Becoming an Indie Game Developer Survey

And in the spirit of sharing, you can view real-time results here:

Survey Results for Motivations for Becoming an Indie Game Developer

With any luck, the data collected by this survey can serve as education for several audiences:

  • Where do indies come from? Mostly studios? Schools? Other industries?
  • What are the major benefits and drawbacks to being indie, in the minds of those who are or are considering becoming indie?
  • What can game studios learn about what they're doing right and wrong to retain their talent?
  • What can writers and editors of publications focus on to have larger relevance to indie developers? (e.g. do indies need more content centered on indie business management?)

And as a final note, if you're reading the survey, and think I've missed something, feel free to add it as an "other" answer in the relevant question, or comment directly on the blog post. It's only version #1, so I've likely missed some things.

Thanks for reading!


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Comments


Martain Chandler
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Because the previous company I worked for had the motto: Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves. I took the survey and I hope they keep this up on the front page for a bit.



P.S. I'd change the title to TAKE MY INDIE DEV SURVEY OR ELSE. Really. Your current title stirs the passion for indie gaming like a fork in coffee. Not trying to be mean or anything.

richard bib
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Because the previous company I worked for had the motto: Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves. I took the survey and I hope they keep this up on the front page for a bit.



P.S. I'd change the title to TAKE MY INDIE DEV SURVEY OR ELSE. Really. Your current title stirs the passion for indie gaming like a fork in coffee. Not trying to be mean or anything.

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richard bib
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Daniel Fedor
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It made front page? Really? Cool! And thanks for taking the survey!



Re: the new title, I have definitely been accused of showing too little emotion before. Though in this case, I wrote the survey more out of curiosity and a desire to improve the situation on both sides of the game dev spectrum. The tone was meant to be more neutral.



In retrospect, I can see how it might be read as a limp call to action instead. Fortunately, indie-hood hardly needs me to extoll its virtues. :)

Martain Chandler
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The emotion is required because you want moar peeps to take yer poll. Sell it, dude! Otherwise I find your prose to be a-OK.

Pieterjan Spoelders
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Took the survey.

Megan Fox
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The survey's missing a big segment - those of us employed elsewhere AND running an indie studio.



(ie. indies fund themselves in some way, including but not limited to: savings, investment, contracting, salaried position ok with indie dev, etc)



I imagine most of us will do the "self-employed indie dev" option, since that's the closest, but you're missing a nuance of the data there.

Martain Chandler
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Yar! That's my situation. Consult 4 $ during the day, seduce programmers and artists with the sweet smell of indie at night.



But I did leave the last corp I worked for because I was in a Right to Work state and I knew that was a ticket to nowheresville. The consulting and the Indie Exploratory Committee both came out of that little piece of drama.

Daniel Fedor
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Totally. I've had a few point out that omission so far, and that's my mistake. Some students have also pointed out that there is a segment that comes directly into indie work without being a veteran of a former industry.



So I definitely need to expand the employment segmentation a bit for iteration #2. Thanks for bearing with me!


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