Thesis Open Access

Breaking out of the industry: The independent games movement as resistance to hegemonic videogame discourse

Christiansen, Peter

Thesis supervisor(s)

Lawson, Sean T; Avery, Robert K; Kessler, Robert R

The aim of this thesis is to examine the way that the videogame industry has evolved as a complex sociotechnological system and how the discourse surrounding the industry, as well as videogames as a medium of expression, has shaped that development. This shift in the nature of videogame creation from individual authors and small studios to the monolithic entity known as "the Industry" was accompanied by the creation of an ideology that defines the identity of a community and places constraints on videogames as a medium. This is the ideology of the "hardcore" gamer. In order to understand this ideology, its impact and its significance, I will focus on the discourse surrounding the videogame industry and particularly on the limits of this discourse. One such area of discourse where antagonisms arise is in the growing community of independent game developers.

The independent games movement can be looked at as a direct result of what Laclau and Mouffe refer to as articulation – the process by which relationships are established in such a way as to alter the identities of the elements themselves. As the videogame industry became increasingly articulated, the identities of games, gamers and game makers became more and more narrowly defined. This increased areas of antagonism within the discourse, allowing for resistance and the possibility of disarticulation.

Though the independent games movement has grown substantially in recent years, the degree to which this movement resists the ideology of the videogame industry is unclear, as is the role of the technology in this process. This paper will examine these relationships through the discourse of both the mainstream videogame industry as well as that of the independent games community

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