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Like movies, video games have contributed to a massive and diverse industry. The video game market place Steam has over thirty-thousand games available for sale and only 47% of developers sell their games using steam. This article will teach you what you need to know about the diversity in the gaming market, the games that came out of home projects, and what you need to know for you young gamers. Here at GKIS we care about the internet safety of your young gamers and we want to protect them from digital injuries. Check out the GKIS Social Media Readiness Course to prepare your tweens and teens for the dangers they will face while playing games and interacting on social media.

What is an indie game?

A video game can be classified into one of two groups based on who produced the game, AAA games and Indie games. AAA games are produced by a major company that can back the game’s production with money, personnel, and any other resources the production may need. Indie games are produced by either a small team or a single developer with minimal resources at their disposal. An indie game developer is typically a single person with a good idea and access to game developing software.

A video game is a large time investment for any developer. Large game developers have teams of experts who each work on the pieces of the game resulting in a short production time. Indie developers, on the other hand, typically have minimal resources. They often crowd fund projects and make sacrifices to release games in a reasonable amount of time. Indie developers tend to rely on social media for brand awareness and marketing.

Well Known Indie Games

Indie games may start out as small passion projects, but well-made games can gain popularity and become just as popular as AAA games. When an Indie game becomes popular enough, AAA publishers may buy the game from the original developer. This allows the publisher to put their formidable resources behind the project and then reap the rewards of the new and improved game. Here at GKIS, we put the formidable resource of Dr. Bennett’s knowledge and experience to work to create the GKIS app. The GKIS app gives you access to weekly videos of parenting advice based in science and Dr. Bennett’s years of experience as licensed therapist working with kids with digital injury.

Here are some Indie games you may recognize:


Minecraft is an incredibly popular Indie title, having sold over 200 million copies to date, and was sold to Microsoft the company behind the Xbox game console in 2014. Microsoft has since updated Minecraft with new content, released two more games under the Minecraft title, and expanded the game into other profitable areas such as toys.


Undertale is a game that was crowd funded and released in 2015 with an estimated 5.8 million users. Created by a single developer, this game has reached a level of acclaim that Nintendo licensed one of the characters to appear in one of their own games. The game also has its own line of merchandise and a much-anticipated sequel currently in development.

Among Us

Among Us is a more recent success story of a small social deception game that rocketed into the public eye, and boasted 60 million active users a day at the peak of its popularity. The game was very popular amongst YouTube and Twitch creators, which acted as a very successful marketing campaign. The game has become so popular the this most recent Halloween there were kids running around in blow up costumes of the Among Us space suits.

The Benefits of Indie Games

Without a big corporation behind them forcing big decisions, indie developers can make any game they want. For example, Cup Head is an extremely difficult game with an art style designed to be an homage to the early era of hand-drawn cartoons. Some games are designed off of a single weird concept or a specific labor of love based off an obscure passion.

Most indie developers try to get the funding they need to produce a game using crowd funding. Crowd funding is when a designer puts out a concept of a project online and gets funding from the potential fanbase to make the game through a mixture of donations, pre-purchasing the game before development begins, and additional benefits for backers of the game. Benefits can include anything from your name in the credits of the game as a backer to having input into a part of the game or a character in the game being named for the backer. Crowd funding allows a developer to pool money for a passion project from people who are excited for the game. Crowd funding success helps to attract investors because it reflects customer interest.

The Dangers of Indie Games

Indie games have been a source of some of the greatest titles of the last two decades, but that doesn’t mean that every Indie game is going to be like Minecraft. Indie games can be whatever the creator wants, and that’s not always a good thing. For example, some developers push the boundary of horror games and explore themes AAA horror would never touch. For example, The Binding of Isaac is one of the most popular Indie games of all time. The game explores themes of child abuse, religious extremism, and child suicide.

Indie games can explore any theme no matter how dark or twisted and the limit to what can be made is limited only by human imagination. That doesn’t mean all Indie games are horror games. But the range of themes available is significantly more diverse than the AAA scene for games.

What does this mean for your young gamers?

Within the gaming industry Indie games are incredibly diverse. The diversity of genres and topics can create games that range from poorly made first attempts to truly frightening horror games and all the way to amazing successes like Minecraft.

So, what can you do for your young gamers online?

Read the summary.

If your child wants to get an Indie game it will often come from a website that allows developers to post and sell their games. There is a store page on Steam associated with a game that will give you a description of the plot, game play, pictures of the game, and reviews from people who have played the game. This will allow you to make an informed decision if this game is right for your child.

The GKIS Connected Family Course

Our family course is designed to bring your family closer and get your kids working with you to stay safe on the internet. Our connected family course is outcome-based and will help you close screen risk gaps and increase family closeness and cooperation.


You can often find YouTube creators that have recorded game play of popular new Indie games. If your child wants to play the new game their favorite YouTuber is playing, watch one of their videos with them. It’ll show you what kind of game your child is looking at, and you’ll get to hang out with your kid while you do it.

Thanks to CSUCI intern, Jason T. Stewart for researching advances in the video game industry and co-authoring this article.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited

Coble, V. (2021, September 30). 10 most disturbing psychological horror indie games. CBR. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from https://www.cbr.com/indie-games-disturbing-psychological-horror/.

Curry, D. (2021, November 11). Among us revenue and usage statistics (2021). Business of Apps. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.businessofapps.com/data/among-us-statistics/.

Curry, D. (2021, November 11). Minecraft revenue and Usage Statistics (2021). Business of Apps. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.businessofapps.com/data/minecraft-statistics/.

Donnellan, J. (2021, June 8). 50 best indie games of all time. Cultured Vultures. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from https://culturedvultures.com/best-indie-games-all-time/.

G., D. (2021, November 1). 45+ video games industry statistics, facts, and trends for 2021. TechJury. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://techjury.net/blog/video-games-industry-statistics/.

Lowry, B. (2017, November 29). This is what sets ‘indie’ and ‘AAA’ video games apart. Windows Central. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from https://www.windowscentral.com/indie-vs-aaa-which-type-game-you.

Mikolić, M. (n.d.). Undertale stats by Playtracker Insight. stats by Playtracker Insight. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://playtracker.net/insight/game/1122.

Oddo, M. V. (2021, August 2). What’s an indie game anyway? Collider. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from https://collider.com/what-makes-an-indie-game/.

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