‘If you are feeling bold, ask for $3’: Value Crafting and Indie Game Developers

Consalvo Mia Paul Christopher A.
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

This paper explores the practices that indie developers deploy to manage the risks they encounter while making, marketing, and selling games. Building on concepts such as indie labour (Browne 2015) and theory-crafting (Paul 2011), this paper explicates the concept of value crafting as a better way to understand indie game developer practices. Indie developers engage in value crafting as a way to construct the value of their game and to sell it to a wide audience. This is reflected in debates about the pricing of indie games - there is no agreed upon standard for contemporary indie games, with price points now ranging from free (with or without in-app purchases) through $30 for individual games. Alongside the uncertainty of how to price a game, developers formulate elaborate marketing plans for various stages of their work, which can include running a Kickstarter campaign, promoting their game via social media, creating, moderating and participating in fan forums, gaining Steam Greenlight access, whether or not to release their game on Early Access, releasing demos, pitching their game to game journalists and local media, finding YouTube and Twitch personalities to play and promote their game, and many other activities. Indies who do all of these things also engage in lengthy discussions with one another to share information, usually incorporating detailed charts, graphs and statistical analyses. These post-mortems of their activities attempt to explain a game’s success or failure, as well as to rhetorically construct a particular activity as successful in some way even if sales figures are low- so it might lay the groundwork for future games, it builds a fan base, it teaches valuable lessons learned, and so on.


It’s no videogame: news commentary and the second gulf war

Consalvo Mia
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This study analyzes U.S. news media coverage of the second Gulf War, to determine how individuals used the term ‘videogame’ in reference to the war. By studying how the news media itself sought to praise or criticize coverage of the war as being un/like videogames, we can see how videogames continue to be constructed in popular media in troublesome ways. Analysis, for example, shows that use of the term “videogame” points to coverage that (1) focuses on sophisticated technologies, (2) is devoid of human suffering, and/or (3) seems somehow fake or non-serious. Use of the term is largely pejorative and dismissive, reflecting (and reinforcing) popular views of videogames as lacking context and seriousness. Finally, the study examines the military’s own history of game-related activities, and how that context creates striking paradoxes in such usages.


Visiting the Floating World: Tracing a Cultural History of Games Through Japan and America

Consalvo Mia
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

The goal of this paper is to establish a framework for better understanding the relationships between Japanese and American games in relation to that industry, visual styles, and cultural influence. To do that, this paper draws on a larger cultural history of Japan and America, and critiques and questions current and potential uses the concept of Orientalism in relation to digital games. In doing so, my hope is that we can arrive at a more sophisticated, nuanced understanding of that relationship, and use this framework for subsequent critical analysis.