1st Edition

Independent Videogames Cultures, Networks, Techniques and Politics

Edited By Paolo Ruffino Copyright 2021
    302 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    302 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Independent Videogames investigates the social and cultural implications of contemporary forms of independent video game development. Through a series of case studies and theoretical investigations, it evaluates the significance of such a multi-faceted phenomenon within video game and digital cultures.

    A diverse team of scholars highlight the specificities of independence within the industry and the culture of digital gaming through case studies and theoretical questions. The chapters focus on labor, gender, distribution models and technologies of production to map the current state of research on independent game development. The authors also identify how the boundaries of independence are becoming opaque in the contemporary game industry – often at the cost of the claims of autonomy, freedom and emancipation that underlie the indie scene. The book ultimately imagines new and better narratives for a less exploitative and more inclusive videogame industry.

    Systematically mapping the current directions of a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly difficult to define and limit, this book will be a crucial resource for scholars and students of game studies, media history, media industries and independent gaming.


    List of Figures

    List of Contributors


    1. Introduction: After Independence

    Paolo Ruffino

    Part I: Cultures

    2. Decoding and Recoding Game Jams and Independent Game-making Spaces for Diversity and Inclusion

    Aphra Kerr

    3. Queering Indie: How LGBTQ Experiences Challenge Dominant Narratives of Independent Games

    Bonnie Ruberg

    4. Virtually Indie: On the Characteristics of Independent Game Development for Virtual Reality Headsets

    Paweł Grabarczyk

    Part II: Networks

    5. Network or Die? What Social Networking Analysis Can Tell Us About Indie Game Development

    Pierson Browne and Jennifer Whitson

    6. Strange Bedfellows: Indie Games and Academia

    Celia Pearce

    Part III: Techniques

    7. The Conditions of Videogame Production: The Nature and Stakes of Creative Freedom in Stiegler’s Philosophy of Technicity

    Patrick Crogan

    8. Boutique Indie: Annapurna Interactive and Contemporary Independent Game Development

    Felan Parker

    9. Game Production Studies: Studio Studies Theory, Method and Practice

    Casey O’Donnell

    Part IV: Politics

    10. Game Workers Unite: Unionization Among Independent Developers

    Jamie Woodcock

    11. Playing with Risk: Political-Economy, Independent Games, and the Precarity of Development in Crowded Commercial Markets

    Nadav Lipkin

    Part V: Local Indie Game Studies

    12. Playful Peripheries: The Consolidation of Independent Game Production in Latin America

    Orlando Guevara-Villalobos


    13. The Melbourne Indie Game Scenes: Value Regimes in Localized Game Development

    Brendan Keogh

    14. Modes of Independence in the Finnish Game Development Scene

    Olli Sotamaa

    15. The Rebels Across the Street: IndiE3 and the Strategic Geography of Indie Game Promotion

    John Vanderhoef

    16. Freedom from the Industry Standard: Student Working Imaginaries and Independence in Games Higher Education

    Alison Harvey

    17. Afterword: The Cultural Conditions of Being Indie

    Bart Simon



    Dr. Paolo Ruffino is lecturer in Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of Future Gaming: Creative Interventions in Video Game Culture (Goldsmiths and MIT Press, 2018). He has co-curated, with Marco Benoît Carbone, a special issue of Games and Culture in 2017 on the work of Roger Caillois, and of GAME The Italian Journal of Game Studies on videogame subcultures in 2014. His research focuses on independent videogame development, the automation of play, and contemporary practices and technologies of gamification and quantification of the self. He is chair of DiGRA Italia and a member of British DiGRA.