Breaking out stories and networks of interdependency: using actor-network theory to trace emergent challenges to narrative norms in AAA and indie game development sectors.

Bowman, Dean (2020) Breaking out stories and networks of interdependency: using actor-network theory to trace emergent challenges to narrative norms in AAA and indie game development sectors. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

My intervention in this thesis is two-fold: Firstly, I aim to explore how design practitioners are leveraging the form of videogames to tell new types of stories that speak to and help shape newly emerging audience formations, and how the material and organisational structures of the industry constrain or enable those attempts. Secondly, the thesis implements a novel framework adapted primarily from the production studies work of John Caldwell (2008b), which has been recognised as an urgently needed addition to the growing critical tool kit of game studies (Banks et al., 2016), and combined with actor-network theory of Bruno Latour (2005), in order to make an original contribution to the growing methodological field of game studies. I argue that the innovative framework of actor-network theory (Callon et al., 2009; Latour, 2005; Law, 2004) applies particularly well to the shifting videogames industry as an object of study.

My specific focus is on the kinds of stories that are told in the complex and shifting production contexts of game design, but also the kinds of trade stories that circulate within production cultures. Thus I link textual analysis and the study of production by exploring how such narratives are formed within real material spaces of production. I do so by utilising a mixed method of anthropology of production cultures and semi-structured interviews (Galletta, 2013). In particular I have attempted to make the game studio a unit of analysis within the complex flows of narrative intention and economic realities, which ties my work into an emerging field of Studio Studies (Farías and Wilkie, 2015), and I specifically focus on the emergence of the independent studio as a significant challenge to industry norms and the narrative forms and core gamer identities that rest upon them. In doing so I build on a new generation of work in game studies (Anable, 2018; Chess, 2017; Keogh, 2018a; Nooney, 2017; Ruffino, 2018a) seeking to challenge the entrenched academic orthodoxy of game studies

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 13:41
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2021 13:41
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79836
DOI:

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