RIT's own, Professor Andy Phelps, was Slashdotted yesterday after a recent post on his Got Game blog over at Corante. In his article—posted almost 2 weeks ago—Andy suggested the game industry promote innovation and new ideas by including “B-side” games along with the major titles on their release DVDs. These B-sides could be independent games such as student work, Flash games that haven't caught on yet, or other experimental games to increase exposure of often overlooked, and yet exceptional, content.
I am all for the idea, since my research lately has uncovered many excellent games that truly deserve some serious exposure. Games that are available and distributed over the Web, and accessible with merely a browser and a Flash or Shockwave plug-in, are showing that you really don't need a huge budget to make games that are fun to play and worthy of time spent. For starters, try: Chasm, Conqueror, Tontie, Merlin's Revenge, PixelHugger, iSketch, and just about any of Ferry Halim's Orisinal games.
There are also many excellent games produced independently of the major game developers and publishers that are available for download and play on Mac, Linux, or PC. One has only to look at games like Gish, or sites like Reflexive Arcade, Cornutopia, GarageGames, or DIY Games to see there is a groundswell of activity happening in the indie game community. In fact, there is a group of students I know well at RIT who have been putting the finishing touches on an excellent looking game they crafted over this summer, Wings of Megaira, together with Andy Phelps.
Will we begin to see indie games being included on the DVDs of major releases any time soon? Probably not. What is more likely to happen is the continued practice of including commercials and demos, in increasing number, marketing their own products. To these monolithic publishers with a narrow focus on the bottom line, cross-marketing their own products and services is likely to make better financial sense. Still, “B-Side games” is a good idea. Possibly even a practice that the indie game publishers themselves can come together on and begin to co-market games on each others release distros. That might get the ball rolling.