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Game Production Studies: Studio Studies Theory, Method, and Practice

Independent Videogames Cover
Independent Videogames Cover

Abstract: Dr. O’Donnell’s chapter is rooted in a deep interest and care for Game Production Studies, beginning with his early dissertation work with AAA game developers and subsequently working in a variety of fields doing research on Game Production in the educational, crowdsourcing, and “indie” communities. O’Donnell’s focus will be on the theories, methods, and practices of performing indie Game Production Studies. Game Production Studies explore the wide array of processes, practices, texts, technologies, and aspects that take place in and surrounding the game production process. This process is often referred to generally as “game development”, which while rooted in the practice of making games actually constitutes a wide variety of tasks, disciplinary perspectives, processes, people, and institutions. This entry explores a variety of the theoretical and methodological foundations of Studio Studies. It examines the increasingly complex practice of research working in the space of Studio Studies and concludes by examining the myriad of issues that can complicate work of this kind and potential pitfalls that the field faces as it moves forward in the studying of game developers making games.

Casey O’Donnell (2021). Game Production Studies: Studio Studies Theory, Method, and Practice. Pp. 148-160 in the Edited Volume, Independent Videogames: Cultures, Networks, Techniques and Politics. Edited by Paulo Ruffino. New York, NY: Routledge.


About Casey O'Donnell

Casey O'Donnell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University. He is part of the games faculty and Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) lab at MSU. He is also part of the game development collective Affinity Games. His research examines the creative collaborative work of videogame design and development. This research examines the cultural and collaborative dynamics that occur in both professional "AAA" organizations and formal and informal "independent" game development communities. His research has spanned game development companies from the United States to India. His research examines issues of work, production, copyright, as well as third world and postcolonial aspects of the videogame development workplace.

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