To track the public understanding of modern-day indie gaming is to look at the small-scale independent development scene through an Anglo-centric lens. While it would be unfair to ignore the hobbyists programming experiences in BASIC on their ZX Spectrum or similar, it’s commonly accepted that indie gaming as we recognise it today has its roots in the early days of the internet and the Y2K boom, when Flash, Gamemaker Studio and similar tools allowed things like Cave Story and N to grow. With online distribution further helping games like Bastion, Journey and World Of Goo to flourish, the definition of the indie game became: a title with big ambitions and creativity grown from small budgets and teams.
It’s not entirely wrong, but it has obscured decades of hobby development that was once at the forefront – not just the stories of BBC Micro solo-development stars, but similar ones of hobby development from around the world. In Japan, the doujin markets of Comiket and beyond serve as a home for hobbyists to make, sell and share their creations. It is the doujin gaming scene that helped major studios like Fate/ studio Type-Moon, and franchises like 07th Expansion and Touhou Project, flourish in a way that would never be possible otherwise.