A few weeks back, when the nominations for the Game Awards were announced and set to be chosen in December, quite a considerable controversy struck over one particular game being nominated for the Best Indie Game, that being Dave the Diver.
The game may look indie, but a subsidiary of Nexon, a massive game studio in Korea, developed it.
While we at IndieGameCulture covered it since a pretty small team still made it, most people take a far stricter definition of what an indie game means.
Some people assume that to mean 100% independent, while others put a vague number on what it means to be a small team. Through all this, Geoff Keighley has clarified why Dave the Diver is considered indie, at least for the Indie award.
Geoff Keighley’s Reasoning
In a live stream on Twitch, Geoff went over questions he got from chat, including wanting to know the thinking behind Dave the Diver’s inclusion.
Essentially, the jury of 250 game journalists or experts in video game media (When am I getting invited, Geoff?!) don’t have a strict guideline for what exactly an indie is; they’re just asked to use their best judgment when deciding.
More or less, it’s down to “Does a small team do it?” and “Does it feel like an indie?” moreso than hard and fast guidelines.
He especially brings up the point that just saying “indie games are independent games, as in ones with no publisher” makes DREDGE not an indie but does make Baldur’s Gate 3 and Death Stranding indie, which is extremely weird.
More on DREDGE, he says that excluding games with more funding and a more prominent name behind them, either through a publisher or subsidiary, would be filtering out many games widely considered indie.
Just this year, we’ve gotten DREDGE, COCOON, Risk of Rain Returns, Hi-Fi Rush, and, of course, Dave the Diver.
He goes on to say that you’re 100% allowed to disagree, and you’re valid in thinking it doesn’t deserve it, but what makes a game indie is highly debatable.
The music industry may have found an easy definition for what they consider indie, but that same thing doesn’t apply to video games, just like every other weird rule the music industry pushed on every other form of media (I hate American copyright law).
You can think that Pizza Tower, Laika: Aged Through Blood, or a different game deserved that nomination more after having been made by fewer people without a massive corporation backing them, and that’s fine.
This is just the decision others made and doesn’t necessarily reflect what everyone else considers indie.
If you want to hear more about the best indie games this year or read up on your favorites from years ago, stay here for more!