Alex Nichiporchik is the CEO of TinyBuild, a developer and publisher of indie video games. We talked to him about the indie game world, Let's Play videos, and taking games seriously as art.
For the uninitiated, what is an indie video game? What typically sets them apart aesthetically or thematically, or in terms of gameplay?
Alex Nichiporchik: An indie game is a game made by a small team of people or an individual, and brought to the market by themselves or with help of a similar indie team. It can really be any genre or style, as long as the IP belongs to the game creator.
I would say many people 30+ enjoy indie games since many indie titles have a retro feel and bring back childhood memories.
Can you paint us a picture of the typical indie gamer? What draws them to alternative titles?
Alex Nichiporchik: Typically indie games are smaller content-wise – since they are made by small teams – and this makes them available to broader audiences who ration their entertainment and enjoy the original stories. I would say many people 30+ enjoy indie games since many indie titles have a retro feel and bring back childhood memories.
Can you tell us about the rise of Let’s Play videos? What’s the appeal of watching someone play rather than playing yourself? How has this influenced how you develop games?
Alex Nichiporchik: The phenomenon of Let’s Play videos has been out there since the rise of Youtube. Youtubers like sharing their experiences with the audience, and the audience is hungry for the Youtuber’s emotions. Twitch has brought it to a new level with live streaming, giving people a chance to experience the gameplay in real time and creating a unique streamer-audience feedback loop.
Watching Let’s Plays and streams is satisfying on many levels – you get to find out what the game is, how to play it, what type of emotion to expect from it and decide for yourself if you want to buy the game. Basically, you can estimate the level of FUN you’ll get from a game if you decide to try it out.
Letsplayers and streamers are our core media group, and we always keep them in mind. We try to integrate Twitch into all of our games and make the game not only fun to play, but also fun to watch!
How do you begin thinking about game concepts? What outside influences do you draw on?
Alex Nichiporchik: There is always some inspiration, that often comes from various sources, such as other games that we play, books that we read and movies that we watch.
It’s very hard to come up with something inherently new in this day and age. Games mix and match genres, styles and mechanics, it’s really like a huge playdough box right now.
Is a strong sense of novelty a requirement to make an indie game marketable? How do you know when you’ve stumbled upon something truly novel?
Alex Nichiporchik: It’s very hard to come up with something inherently new in this day and age. Games mix and match genres, styles and mechanics, it’s really like a huge playdough box right now. As long as it’s not an outright clone, a game can come up with a new unique mechanic that will charm us and the players alike!
Games are created by human imagination and evoke appreciation of beauty and a wide range of emotions. Games are an art and entertainment, the two are not mutually exclusive.
What’s your argument to consider some video games art rather than just entertainment?
Alex Nichiporchik: Games are definitely an art, and perhaps a superior form of art, since they combine visual, audio, technical and narrative aesthetics. Games are created by human imagination and evoke appreciation of beauty and a wide range of emotions. Games are an art and entertainment, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Are there any types of games you’ve been itching to build or publish you haven’t gotten around to yet?
Alex Nichiporchik: Yes. We are hoping to develop or publish a third-person multiplayer survival game at some point.