Rank-and-file game developers bring videogames from concept to product, and yet their work is almost invisible, hidden behind the famous names of publishers, executives, or console manufacturers. In this book, Casey O’Donnell examines the creative collaborative practice of typical game developers. His investigation of why game developers work the way they do sheds light on our understanding of work, the organization of work, and the market forces that shape (and are shaped by) media industries. O’Donnell shows that the ability to play with the underlying systems—technical, conceptual, and social—is at the core of creative and collaborative practice, which is central to the New Economy. When access to underlying systems is undermined, so too is creative collaborative process.
Drawing on extensive fieldwork in game studios in the United States and India, O’Donnell stakes out new territory empirically, conceptually, and methodologically. Mimicking the structure of videogames, the book is divided into worlds, within which are levels; and each world ends with a boss fight, a “rant” about lessons learned and tools mastered. O’Donnell describes the process of videogame development from pre-production through production, considering such aspects as experimental systems, “socially mandatory” overtime, and the perpetual startup machine that exhausts young, initially enthusiastic workers. He links work practice to broader systems of publishing, manufacturing, and distribution; introduces the concept of a privileged “actor-intra-internetwork”; and describes patent and copyright enforcement by industry and the state.
About the Author
Casey O’Donnell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University.
—T. L. Taylor, Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies/Writing, MIT; author of Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming
—Gina Neff, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Washington; author of Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries
—Hector Postigo, Associate Professor of Media Studies and Production, Temple University; author of The Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright
—Trevor Pinch, Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University