‘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.


Constructing the Ideal EVE Online Player

Bergstrom Kelly Carter Marcus Woodford Darryl Paul Christopher A.
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

EVE Online, released in 2003 by CCP Games, is a space-themed Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). This sandbox style MMOG has a reputation for being a difficult game with a punishing learning curve that is fairly impenetrable to new players. This has led to the widely held belief among the larger MMOG community that “EVE players are different”, as only a very particular type of player would be dedicated to learning how to play a game this challenging. Taking a critical approach to the claim that “EVE players are different”, this paper complicates the idea that only a certain type of player capable of playing the most hardcore of games will be attracted to this particular MMOG. Instead, we argue that EVE’s “exceptionalism” is actually the result of conscious design decisions on the part of CCP games, which in turn compel particular behaviours that are continually reinforced as the norm by the game’s relatively homogenous player community.


The Rise and Fall of CTS: Kenneth Burke Identifying with the World of Warcraft

Paul Christopher A. Philpott Jeffrey S.
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Guilds in online games often have a tumultuous life. In this essay we examine the rise and fall of the Cardboard Tube Samurai, a World of Warcraft guild, and explain three key phases in the guild’s existence using the ideas of Kenneth Burke. We argue that rhetorical theory can offer substantive insights into the events of online games, in this case focusing on the roles of identification, division, and consubstantiality in explaining how a guild can build for two years to their greatest triumph and fall apart two weeks later.