THE world of alternative games developers lives in the shadows of once-in-a-blue-moon success stories like Minecraft (creator Markus Persson sold it for a tidy $2.5 billion).
Far more common are tales of developers labouring in garages on lines of code for hundreds of hours, only for the end result to make hardly a ripple in the gaming universe.
Perth games creator Louis Roots wants to create some middle ground between the rare stars and the many coders who toil in obscurity.
The owner of SK Games on Fitzgerald Street, he’s now setting up an online equivalent of an art gallery, selling carefully curated alt-games to an increasingly discerning video game crowd.
It’s hard to find a best-selling game that doesn’t involve square-jawed heroes blasting zombies with dual-wielded shotguns.
Roots specialises more in arty, thoughtful story “alt games” that are gaining some recognition. They’re controversial—hardcore gamers deride some of the more pedestrian offerings as “walking simulators” due to a lack of action—and often they’re big on narrative, mood and introspection.
“What’s common is they’re created from passion, they’re not commercially minded,” Roots says. “They’re usually about personal expression.”
He describes it as the difference between watching an arty foreign film at Luna and “going to Megaplex Innaloo to watch Transformers… there’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re trying to offer an alternative”.
One problem when an indy developer tosses their creation online is they’re a drop in a massive ocean of no quality control. Most online stores let anyone on, so being listed is about as prestigious as having your movie sit next to Coneheads in the video shop.
For his storefront, Roots wants to carefully curate the selections, linking up with developers without a good means to get their babies out there,
While touring around the country presenting his own quirky twist on DIY arcade games, Roots says “We’ve found a lot of people have games that no-one knows about,” he says. There isn’t a curated place to buy alt games. No-one hears of these people.”
His curation is now online at backyard.sk.
by DAVID BELL