The word “indie” has a romanticism attached to it that appeals to the screw-the-man sympathies held by many gamers. Indie games are shorter and less extravagant than the triple-A titles that we hate and buy in droves, but they often provide a unique experience in the way that only a true labor of love can. Chances are that every frat boy has played Modern Warfare 2 (though perhaps only as a drinking game - take a shot every time you get shot in the face!). Real gamers know and love lesser-played titles like Limbo and Braid.
But there is a dark side to the indie scene. Occasionally a creative masterpiece is born in the crucible of limited resources, but most of the time tiny budgets result in cheap-and-crappy games that should never have been released from the minds of their developers. Xbox Live’s Indie Arcade, which lets anyone make a game and put it up for sale, provides ample evidence of this. There are hoards of sub-par titles available, and many of the games don’t even work properly. But there are a few games that stand out from the crowd as steaming examples of what happens when you lift the velvet rope of quality assurance for any geek off the street.