If you’ve been fol­low­ing con­ver­sa­tions on gam­ing’s fringes lately, you may have no­ticed calls for the abo­li­tion of the word ‘in­die’. It’s a la­bel that has been slyly co-opted by mar­ket­ing de­part­ments, the ar­gu­ments go, its value as a mean­ing­ful ad­jec­tive eroded to the point that we need to find a re­place­ment. A key is­sue seems to be the dif­fi­culty in­volved in defin­ing what ‘in­die’ means in 2014. Is it some­thing to do with the size of the team? The team’s artis­tic ap­proach? The way the team dis­trib­utes its work? No, no and no. Per­spec­tives like these are too nar­row to be of any prac­ti­cal use. But how about this? Be­ing in­die means not hav­ing to an­swer to any­one but your­self. Find­ing a 100-per-cent bul­let­proof def­i­ni­tion is im­pos­si­ble, but whether you’re a 300-per­son op­er­a­tion like Valve or a one-man band like Terry Ca­vanagh, whether you’re mak­ing a balls-out FPS or a med­i­ta­tive puz­zler, whether you’re chanc­ing your arm via Steam or giv­ing away games for free, this one feels stur­dier than most.

The re­al­ity is that some­times we need short­hand like ‘in­die’ for things like mag­a­zine cov­ers, when we’re try­ing to em­pha­sise, within a lim­ited amount of space, a cen­tral as­pect of a game like No Man’s Sky. And let’s be re­ally clear, that’s all this is: short­hand. We’re not at­tempt­ing to force some­thing into a box that may not be the right shape or size.

The work of in­die cre­ators is a re­cur­rent theme in this is­sue. In Hype, we visit The Chi­nese Room to take our first steps into the mys­te­ri­ous world of Ev­ery­body’s Gone To The Rap­ture, and in our fea­tures sec­tion we talk to the stu­dio’s fel­low pioneers in this new genre. Else­where, we spend some hands-on time with cover game No Man’s Sky, and also catch up with Martin Ken­wright, the ex-Evo­lu­tion Stu­dios man who cut loose from Sony five years ago and is now mak­ing a come­back on his own terms. Then there is our look into the world of con­sole ROM hack­ers, a group that couldn’t be op­er­at­ing any far­ther out­side of the es­tab­lish­ment’s walls.

OK, that’s ‘in­die’ sorted, then. Now, about ‘triple-A’…

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