By Sarah Avery, Zulama Community Advocate, Educator
Your students want to be indie developers? That’s great! It takes a lot of time and energy to become an indie developer; however, with the correct preparation, anyone can publish games!
What is an Indie Developer?
An indie developer is someone who develops and publishes games independently. During this process an indie developer wears many hats, including marketer, accountant, networker, artist, developer, and more. A common misconception is that an indie developer is only responsible for developing and designing a game. However, once the game is completed, how will it reach an audience? How much will the game cost? These are just two of the many questions posed to independent game developers. Indie developers can spend months to years on one project, brainstorming playtesting, and iterating until it is publishable. All the while the developer must network, research, and market their project in order to make money. Part game designer and business professional, an indie developer should be prepared for a wide range of responsibilities and hard work.
What are the Benefits of Being an Indie Developer?
With so much work involved in being an indie developer, it may seem to be easiest to work for a large company. In some ways that is true; however, there are also benefits that accompany developing independent games including:
- Freedom: As an indie developer, you would have complete control over your game. You would be able to choose how the characters look, the artistic style of the game, how the story is developed and more. You would have complete freedom to make the game however you feel is best.
- Learning New Skills: With the wide variety of roles an indie developer takes on, it’s very difficult to not learn new skills. As an indie developer, you would learn skills from marketing, to networking, to programming, and beyond. This is also a great way to meet established professionals who can mentor you through this learning process.
- Passion: One of the main reasons indie game developers develop their independent games is their passion for game development. It takes real love and commitment to spend months on one project before exposing it to the world for criticism and feedback. Through this process you watch your game from an idea, to a prototype, to a published product. As an indie developer, you may not make a lot monetarily, but you will gain a lot emotionally and personally.
How can we Prepare Students to be Indie Developers?
As with all Zulama courses, the Game Production and Marketing course key skills needed for game development. However, in some ways it goes a step forward. With a large focus on publication and marketing, students learn the skills needed to present their games to the world. As an indie developer, it’s not enough to just make a great game, you must also know how to share and sell it to an audience. In this course, students do just that through a simulated economic market.
In addition, throughout the Zulama courses, students work in IDEA teams. IDEA Teams, in conjunction with a focus on Project Based Learning, allow Zulama students to gain an in depth understanding into the design and publication process. From their in depth study of game design, Zulama students are well prepared to tackle a variety of career paths, from higher education to independently developing games.
To learn more about what it takes to be an indie game developer, check out the video below from Extra Credits:
How have you prepared your students to publish their own games? Comment below!