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Coding Play/Crafting Code in the City by Aphra Kerr
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Coding Play/Crafting Code in the City by Aphra Kerr


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Dr. Aphra Kerr is senior Lecturer and researcher in social studies of technology and media. She also teaches courses on games and play, and culture and everyday life. She has extensive research …

Dr. Aphra Kerr is senior Lecturer and researcher in social studies of technology and media. She also teaches courses on games and play, and culture and everyday life. She has extensive research experience on the production, use and regulation of digital media, especially digital games, SNS (social networking sites) and animation, as well as the changing nature of broadcasting in the digital age. Her current research projects include ‘Cultural Production in the Digital Age’ (NSF funded network) and she is currently writing ‘Global games and transnational work’ (book under contract). For the past ten years she has been involved in running, a community voluntary website for the games industry in Ireland.

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  • 1. Coding Play/Crafting Code in the City Dr. Aphra Kerr Sociology, NUI Maynooth
  • 2. Discursive Struggles.  Entertainment software – ESA in US  Interactive software – ISFE in Europe  Videogames/Digital Games/Computer games  Creative and Cultural industry  Independent or indie
  • 3. Game Development  ‘game development is a creative collaborative process involving numerous disciplines rooted in a particular culture producing creative, artistic and culturally important works. Software is a part of this process, and part of the thing created, but it is not the sum of its parts. This is the video game industry’  O’Donnell, C. 2012 ‘This is not a software industry’ pg 18
  • 4. Trends in Game production 1. Games as a service – MMOGs, peer to peer, esports 2. Data driven game design & metrics 3. Platformisation/Casualisation of games – apps, mobile, ipad 4. Alternative routes to market – STEAM, Facebook 5. Productivity of players 6. Intense state competition for mobile game companies, tax credits, visas & worker mobility
  • 5. Triple A – Tech & Programming
  • 6. Independents & Player created content
  • 7. What is an independent producer?  “[…] the notion of independence needs to be interrogated somewhat if it is to have any purchase. …… the "indy" tag may not signify much more than "wannabe". … In other words, the power of already established publishers may in fact be strengthened by the creation of an industrial diaspora of hopeful independents. …” Dovey and Kennedy, p. 141 (2006) (nothing) intrinsically emancipatory in the practices of production employed or put forward by independent game designers. (Ruffino, P. 2013)
  • 8. Alternative ideas about Indie?’ Jonathan Blow, author of Braid, “...part of it is trying not to be professional. A lot of people come into indie games trying to be like a big company. What those game companies do is create highly polished things that serve as large as an audience as possible. … The creation of this highly glossy commercial product is the opposite of making something personal.” Indie Game: The Movie, 1:32 –2:06 (2012)
  • 9. New practices, old structures? Cultural individualisation?’ (McRobbie, 2001) ‘insitutionalised individualisation’ of cultural labourBanks (2007) Venture Labour and the individualisation of risk (Neff, G. , 2012) Highly gendered..
  • 10. Programming as craft?  Cyberfeminists identified programming as craft activity connected to weaving – Plant, S. , Wajcman, J.  equitable access to tools & knowledge  DIY game making as craft. Women only games workshops Toronto since 2011 – addressing wider absence of women in games industry (Westecott, E. 2012) + Jenson, J., Harvey, A., Shepherd, T., Whitson, J.
  • 11. Locating the games industry
  • 12. Gamedevmap - content
  • 13. Kerr and Cawley, 2009
  • 14. 2009 - Occupational categories games management 104 producers 60 Concept artists animators creative design Level designers programming 72 Network, tools, graphics QA & support 895 198 59 26 42 Community support Quality Assurance Localisation Marketing Admin
  • 15. Location Fig. 1 - Number of Games companies by county 50 47 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 5 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
  • 16. 2012 Games industry in Ireland Jamie McCormick Fig 4. Number of companies operating in the Irish Games Industry 83 90 75 80 70 60 50 40 30 21 20 10 0 2009 Feb-12 Oct-12
  • 17. FDI V Indigenous Jobs 2012 647 2697 Indigenous Jobs International Jobs
  • 18. Job Growth 02-12 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 # Jobs 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
  • 19. Types of Indies in Ireland Type L1 Newbies Graduates, competition and jam teams L2 Transfers From other industries and university projects L3 Spin-outs From FDI closures Experience
  • 20. Bowen & Deuze– 2009 ‘‘how indie is it?’’ 1) Financially – from publisher, investor (public or private), platform, markets 2) Creatively – from publisher, investor, platform, Players
  • 21. State strategies Action plans, Incubators, seed funding
  • 22. The Games Sector in Ireland: Ac Action Plan for Growth (2011) Forfas  ‘pioneering’, ‘dynamic’, ‘innovative’  ‘talented highly skilled people with the ability to work across cultures’  The need for an ‘anticipatory, agile and responsive approach’
  • 23. 1: NDRC and Launchpad (accelerator) – equity and pr0totyping
  • 24. 2: New Frontiers (EI + IoT) – business development
  • 25. Private Strategies Trade association, publicity & events, RnD & tax breaks, incubators and skills
  • 26. 3. Games Ireland Membership Games Ireland membership is drawn from companies at all levels of Ireland’s active and diverse video games industry. There are alternative types of membership a vailable allowing different levels of participation in Games Ireland‘s board and policy meetings, public and networking events and the setting of Games Ireland objectives.
  • 27. Games Ireland & Games ‘Gigs’
  • 28. 4. Promotion
  • 29. 5. ‘GameSpace’ – game specific incubator
  • 30. GameSpace
  • 31. From Independence to Play & Craft Practice, play and learning Virtual networking & community
  • 32. 6. DubLudo  June 2013 ‘Hey there guys. I want to let you know about something I am very passionate about - Play. I love playing and playing games. I love our little dev scene here in Ireland and it’s wonderful to see it grow each year, every event I go to I am wowed by a new team or an idea. But something has been missing from our smorgasbord of gatherings and meetings and that has been play.’
  • 33. Moves to Facebook..  dubLUDO is an event for anyone that makes games that wants to make their games better. Bring your game Get feedback Give feedback FAQ: Q: What is this weird thing? A: We are still figuring that out. Q: Can I come? A: Yes Q: Can I show my game? A: You have to show your game. Q: But my game is not very good. A: That is not a question. Q: Do you have ( technology x, item y )? A: Probably not, you should bring it.
  • 34. And to Twitter
  • 35. 7. GameCraft
  • 36. Chief Organisers
  • 37. Strategies & Tactics Public/State Private Indy /newbies Jobs Technology Playing F2F Networking Team building Tinkering Seed capital entrepreneurship Creating Equity publicity Virtual Networking Office space skills Co-operating Innovation grants RnD grants Jams, meet ups mentoring tax launchpads visas Hothouses Gamespace
  • 38. Tactics for survival  Events, meet ups and jams as a bullwark against creative and educational individualisation  Virtual networking & socialisation V individualised work  Passion versus alienation
  • 39. Your Indy Worker  Passionate  Graduates, young (ish), mostly male, white.  Self or mix of funding - contracts, investment, social welfare, teaching  Working long Hours & Flexible  Self-promoting  Self-training/Learning by doing ‘a very complicated version of (creative) freedom’ Hesmondhalgh & Baker 2010
  • 40. What is success?  Investment?  An exit?  A release?  Survival?  A hit?
  • 41. 2012 & 2013 releases
  • 42. Getting a Green light on STEAM? Play, connect, create and more..
  • 43. In sum…  Software is much more than code and games are more than software – more cultural industry than software?  Still a gendered industry and a workforce that lacks diversity  Clustering, seed capital, tax credits and business plans as strategies for accelerating startups  Jams, meet ups and networking as tactics for dealing with precarity, risk and continuous learning.
  • 44. Thank you @Aphrak