The Creativity of Web Design, Indie Video Games and Fans

There has been much talk about support for public television this past week and so it is time to visit PBS Off Book once again to remind ourselves of the great work PBS Digital is doing. From indie video games, featuring many great games I've played and highly endorse, to the creation of websites and the powerful role of fans in shaping not only the niche cultures they passionately love but also society as a whole, these three mini documentaries showcase the best the studio is producing. 

The video game industry is now bigger than Hollywood, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent developing these interactive experiences. But there are also small-scale developers working in the indie game realm, creating unique and experimental video games without the budgets of the larger "AAA" games. These indie game developers devote time, money, and take great risks in a quest to realize their creative vision. They deftly balance game mechanics & systems, sound & visuals, and an immersive storytelling experience to push the gaming medium into revolutionary new territory. Much like indie music or indie film, the indie gaming movement provides a creative outlet for game designers who want to work outside of the mainstream.


Jamin Warren, Kill Screen Magazine
Zach Gage, creator of Spelltower
Darren Korb, audio designer of Bastion
Eddy Boxerman & Andy Nealen, creators of Osmos
Leigh Alexander, gaming journalist

Complete list of games featured.

The explosion of the internet over the past 20 years has led to the development of one of the newest creative mediums: the website. Web designers have adapted through the technological developments of html, CSS, Flash, and JavaScript, and have mastered the balance between creativity and usability. Now with the advance of mobile, the greatest websites have taken user experience and responsive design to the next level, and continue our evolution from print to a digital world.


Jeffrey Zeldman
Jason Santa Maria
Whitney Hess 

Before the mass media, people actively engaged with culture through storytelling and expanding well-known tales. Modern fan culture connects to this historical tradition, and has become a force that challenges social norms and accepted behavior. Whether the issue is gender, sexuality, subversiveness, or even intellectual property law, fans participate in communities that allow them to think outside of what is possible in more mainstream scenarios. "Fannish" behavior has become its own grassroots way of altering our society and culture, and a means of actively experiencing one's own culture. In a sense, fans have changed from the faceless adoring masses, to people who are proud of their identity and are stretching the boundaries of what is considered "normal". 


Prof. Francesca Coppa, Muhlenberg College 
Chris Menning, editor at Modern Primate
Amanda Brennan, researcher at Know Your Meme 
Dr. Whitney Phillips, lecturer at NYU
Alexa Dacre, fan fiction writer
Naomi Novik, Organization for Transformative Works


Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit

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