Indie Game Studies Workshop

July 24th at DiGRA 2018 Conference (Turin, Italy)

At DiGRA 2013 (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA), the Indie Game Studies panel and dedicated issue of the journal Loading, curated by Prof Bart Simon, brought the emerging forms of independent game development to the attention of game scholars (Parker 2014). Five years later, the indie scene has become richer and varied, and has been adapting to mutating contexts of production and distribution. Festivals, incubators for start-ups and small companies, workshops and mentoring schemes, have been proliferating in the USA, Canada, Australia, Northern Europe and the United Kingdom. Numerous independent companies have been founded in the geographical areas where the video game industry was already solid, and a significant presence is establishing in parts of the world that have been traditionally distant from the main hubs of video game development.

While the differences (economic, managerial, ideological) with the mainstream productions have always been contested, the recent proliferation of independent companies has further confused the boundaries that appeared to separate the independent territories from the ‘official’ video game industry. In 2013 the trade association TIGA estimated that in the United Kingdom ‘83% of all studios that started up in 2011 and 2012 were independent (as opposed to publisher owned)’ (TIGA 2013). It has been estimated that, in 2014, 95% of video game companies in the United Kingdom were micro or small businesses, according to NESTA (2014) and the British government (GOV.uk 2014). In Australia, independent companies now form the ‘backbone’ of game development (Apperley and Golding 2015, 61; Banks and Cunningham 2016). In 2013, a survey involving 2,500 North American game developers revealed that 53% of them identified as ‘indie’ (GDC 2013), and a subsequent survey by IGDA revealed that 48% of US game developers self-identified as independent (IGDA 2014). Independence is no longer a marginal or alternative mode of production, if it ever was, but the most common type of organization within the video game industry. It appears that almost every game developer is now partially or temporarily ‘indie’ within their career, and the trend is expected to grow, consistently with the recent developments of the cinema, music, and fashion industries (Hesmondhalgh 2013, McRobbie 2016).

The workshop will explore the current state, meanings, and values associated with independence in video game culture, through a series of contributions and findings that analyse the domain from different perspectives, disciplines and geographical specificities. What is at stake, in 2018, when making claims of autonomy, self-management, and creative control? Are indie games helping improve the diversity deficit in gamemakers and audiences? Is there still room for independence, in a production context where short-term contracts, individualism, and financial risks are considered necessary to be involved in game development?

The workshop picks up where the 2013 DiGRA panel left off, bringing together the most current research and theorizing on the topic of “indie game studies.” Speakers, including some of from the original panel in Atlanta, will present and compare research in a series of short (10-15 minutes) presentations. The presentation will culminate in a discussion, to which participants will be invited to contribute, identifying patterns, controversies and gaps, with a view toward continuing towards further collaboration, research, publication and dissemination.

Important Dates

Submission opens
December, 1st 2017

Final Submission Deadline:
February, 9th 2018

Acceptance Notification:
March, 1st 2018



We apologize for the delay in sending a notification about your DIGRA 2018 submission. Due to the high number of submissions, the review process is taking longer than expected but we plan to send out an official notification by next week. Other important dates such as Early Bird registration will be modified accordingly. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

DiGRA Program Chairs




Early Bird Fee Expiration:
March, 29th 2018

Final submission of revised papers and extended abstracts:
April, 15th 2018

REFERENCES

Apperley, T. and Golding, D. (2015) “Australia” in Video Games Around the World (M.J.P. Wolf, ed.), Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press, pp. 57–70.

Banks, J. and Cunningham, S. (2016) “Games Production in Australia: Adapting to Precariousness” in Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor (M. Curtin and K. Sanson, eds.), Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 186-199

GDC (2013) “GDC State of the Industry research exposes major trends ahead of March show”. GDConf.com. February 28. Available at http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.igda.org/resource/collection/9215B88F-2AA3-4471-B44D-B5D58FF25DC7/igda_surveyresults2014_v7.pdf

GOV.uk (2014). “Video games tax relief passes final hurdle”. GOV.uk, 27th March. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/video-games-tax-relief-passes-final-hurdle

Hesmondhalgh, David. 2013. The Cultural Industries. 3rd Edition. London: Sage.

McRobbie, A. 2016. Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries. Cambridge: Polity Press.

NESTA (2014) “A Map of the UK Games Industry”, Nesta.org, 25th September. Available at https://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/map-uk-games-industry

Parker, F. (2014) “Indie Game Studies Year Eleven”. In Proceedings of DiGRA 2013: DeFragging Game Studies, Vol. 7, August 2014. Available at http://www.digra.org/digital-library/publications/indie-game-studies-year-eleven/

TIGA (2013) “The UK Games Industry: Young, Independent and Mobile”. TIGA.org, April 2nd. Available at http://tiga.org/news/the-uk-games-industry-young-independent-and-mobile

UKIE (2017) “The UK Video Games Sector: a Blueprint for Growth”. The UK Interactive Entertainment Association. Available at http://ukie.org.uk/blueprint