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WHO WE ARE

Indie Interfaces is an academic collaboration with game developers, platforms, and support organizations.  We investigate what it means to be “sustainable”, both economically and culturally, in the game industry

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FELAN PARKER

Dr. Felan Parker is an interdisciplinary scholar of media and culture, specializing in digital media, games, and film. His current research, supported by a Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada Insight Development Grant, explores the production, distribution, and reception of independent or “indie” digital games. I am President of the Canadian Game Studies Association and a co-founder of Toronto Outdoor Picture Show. Previously, he completed his Ph.D. in Communication and Culture at York University and was a Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University’s Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre.

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BART SIMON

Dr. Bart Simon is the current director of Milieux and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His areas of expertise include game studies, science and technology studies, and cultural sociology. His game studies and design research crosses a variety of genres and platforms looking at the relation of game cultures, socio-materiality, and everyday life. Some of his work is represented in journals such as Games and Culture, Game Studies, and Loading. His current research on the materialities of play, indie game scenes, and player-makers is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada.

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JENNIFER R. WHITSON

Dr. Whitson studies the secret life of software at the nexus of digital games and Surveillance Studies. Her research centres on the shifting production model of the global game industry, tracing how social and technological practices shape developers' creative work and the larger cultural role of games and play. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Sociology & Legal Studies, on the board of the University of Waterloo's Games Institute and is a faculty advisor for the FirstPersonScholar publication. She's also an associate editor of Surveillance and Society. You can find her work in The Gameful World, published by MIT Press, and in the journals First Monday, Economy & Society, Games & Culture, New Media and Society, and FibreCulture. 

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WHAT WE DO

 

    The Indie Interfaces project examines the wide range of "cultural intermediaries" that occupy the spaces between indie game production, distribution, and reception. This includes local indie community organizations and professional associations, incubators and accelerators, publishers and platform holders, marketers and promoters, journalists, critics, academics, and curators, as well as indie festivals, showcases, exhibitions, and awards, among others. These cultural actors’ primary function is not to make or consume games; rather, they are (inter)mediators or “interfaces” between different parts of the game industry and gaming culture. In different ways and to varying degrees, these individuals and groups act as cultural and/or economic gatekeepers, defining what counts as indie (and what doesn’t), granting legitimacy and prestige, and in doing so, they exert a structuring influence on the field.

Our research seeks to answer: 

  • What are cultural intermediaries and how do they contribute to economic sustainability and survival for indie game developers?
  • What is the audience for indie games, and what role do cultural intermediaries play in constructing that audience?
  • How can organizations like the Indie MEGABOOTH contribute to increasing diversity and inclusivity in the game industry?
 

PUBLICATIONS

Megabooth: The cultural intermediation of indie games

This article considers the history, practices and impact of the Indie Megabooth and its founders in terms of their role as a ‘cultural intermediary’ in promoting and supporting independent or ‘indie’ game development. 

INDIE, eh?

A Special Issue of Loading brought to you by guest editor, Concordia University Professor of Sociology, Bart Simon.

INDIE GAME STUDIES YEAR ELEVEN

As independent or “indie” games become more visible and prominent in the digital game industry and in gaming culture, the idea of independence becomes increasingly difficult to pin down. This short paper provides a starting point for scholars interested in studying indie games. 

What can we learn from studio studies ethnographies?

What can we learn from watching game developers at work? This article demonstrates what an ethnography of a development team can look like, showing the advantages of this methodology for developers and academics alike.

Voodoo Software and Boundary Objects in Game Development: How Developers Collaborate and Conflict with Game Engines and Art Tools

This article describes how game developers successfully ‘pull off’ game development, collaborating in the absence of consensus and working with recalcitrant and wilful technologies, shedding light on the games we play and those that make them, but also how we can be forced to work together by the platforms we choose to use. 

Other writing

indie interfaces announcement

Dr. Felan Parker introduces the Indie Interfaces project and outlines some of the research goals and objectives of the team.

ACADEMIC JOURNAL ARTICLE: MEGABOOTH: THE CULTURAL INTERMEDIATION OF INDIE GAMES

Dr. Felan Parker, Dr. Jennifer Whitson, and Dr. Bart Simon are academic researchers working on a long-term study of the Indie MEGABOOTH and the wider indie game development community.

THE COST/BENEFIT RATIO OF FIELDWORK AT GAME INDUSTRY CONFERENCES

In this blog post about game developer conventions I want to make two points: The first is about the parallels between precarious indie dev and academic work, and the second is about the exorbitant cost but vital need for ethnographic research in indie communities.

New survey looks at the economics of indie game development

A new survey conducted in association with the team behind Indie Megabooth, an annual indie game showcase held at PAX events, EGX and GDC (part of UBM Tech, like Gamasutra), has shed some light on the financial side of indie development - at least for its exhibitors.

INDIE ECONOMICS – PART 2

This is the second in a series of blog posts exploring the initial findings of an ongoing study of the IndieMEGABOOTH conducted by the Indie Interfaces team.

MEASURING INDIE MEGABOOTH’S SUCCESS & IMPACT – PART 1

After each showcase, we send out a post-mortem survey to the teams that were featured. We use the responses to identify our weaknesses, and to help us develop methods to improve upon them. When a team of academics offered to run a study on Indie MEGABOOTH, our events, and our alumni, we jumped at the chance to gain a new perspective on our work to learn if -and how- it is effecting change within the industry at large. 

In this first part of a two-part introduction, we learn which countries teams traveled from for PAX Prime 2015, their goals for the show, and other demographics.

Sponsors

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Collaborators

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