Dig Dug, Frogger and Pole Position were awesome in their day, but gaming has come light years in both technical complexity and popularity since then, evolving into a $66 billion industry. While platforms like Nintendo’s Wii, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox have turned gaming into a mainstream phenomenon, an entire subgenre of independently created and financed games has also flourished. Many early amusements were independently produced (Tennis for Two, arguably the world’s first analog video game, was developed in 1958 by nuclear physicist William Higinbotham), but the development of maverick titles has exploded in the Internet age with the ease of online distribution.
The cream of the modern indie-gaming crop is on display at the Museum of the Moving Image (which claims to have mounted the first-ever video-game museum exhibit back in 1989) in the form of a playable installation copresented by eight-year-old festival IndieCade. Visitors can try out 25 games in all, including landmark titles that have indirectly influenced the larger gaming world over the past decade such as Alien Hominid, Everyday Shooter and Flower, as well as ten 2013 IndieCade award winners. (The museum hosts five-on-five tournaments of ten-player strategy challenge Killer Queen Arcade on select Friday nights from 6 to 8pm, check the website for details on how to sign up.)—Aaron Stern