Only as much as a few short years ago, if a gamer were to say they were playing an “indie game,” one might expect them to say that as they were chomping on a gluten-free, vegan “TLT” (tofu-lettuce-tomato) sandwich with organic mayonnaise made from cage-free eggs while pushing up their hipster glasses and adjusting their emo scarves in July. Nowadays, however, indie games are losing their stigma, and many gamers are finding great hidden gems do not always originate from the big studios.
This movement from quiet, hidden, hipster indie game to a more general acceptance surged in 2014, thanks in part to crowdsourcing campaigns such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and many other fundraising platforms. Putting stories and ideas before the general populace of the Internet instead of a few bigwigs at a studio has put the indie in a more accessible arena than before, connecting gamers to games they want to play well before release.
Last year, those who joined in crowdsourcing's early days could finally begin to see fruits of their labors. Our 2014 choice for Best Indie Game, Shovel Knight, came from Kickstarter funds, and knocked our socks off (and the socks of many others). 2014 also saw the release of a new addition to the Divinity series, Divinity: Original Sin, the re-imagined MacVenture and NES classic Shadowgate, and the disturbing horror hit Among the Sleep, all funded by crowdsourcing.
It's a system that works, for those that are worthy of it – and sometimes those that aren't. Much of 2015's indie hits and misses will stem from 2014's campaigns. Check out some of the best (and worst) ideas from the world of crowdsourcing from last year, and you just may see some of these games in next year's “Best Of” awards.