How A Niche Dev Community Is Improving Self-Isolation

For every behemoth corporation like EA, Blizzard, or Riot, there are thousands of independent creators making games the way they want to make them. Itch.io provides these developers with a platform, and teems with inspired games about virtual art colleges, turn-based football dramas, and skeletons headbutting lizards.

Although the Itch community is remarkably tight-knit and infectiously supportive, it’s relatively self-contained. People who regularly occasion its hodgepodge storefront are likely to experiment with a variety of games, whereas those less interested in its curios might only visit for an ephemeral sojourn, never to return. Those lines have started to blur recently: all of a sudden, games that may have only been downloaded two or three times a week are being played by thousands of people all over the world–daily. Why? Because a variety of Itch creators have championed the benevolent cause of making games as inexpensive as they possibly can–in some cases making them completely free–in order to play their part in helping those who are currently self-isolating. This is how the “Games to help you stay inside” collection was born.

Moshe Linke, an indie developer from Hamburg who specializes in cultivating experiences founded upon neo-brutalism and concrete philosophical exploration, told me that offering escapism has become a concerted effort in the development community. “To help people cope, I want to make my work accessible for as many people as possible,” Linke explained. “I saw some of my indie friends doing it and loved the idea of joining the movement.” One of Linke’s most well-known games, Fugue In Void, is currently available free of charge.

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