Chris J. Young
PhD Dissertation

Gamemaking has become ubiquitous in everyday life. Gamemakers have access to professional and community-built tools and resources that enable them to develop a range of 3D and 2D videogames, interactive fiction, board games, and pen and paper games. These gamemakers have experimented, hacked, modded, and played with these tools, which has broadened our definition of a game. While the conversation surrounding games and play has been productive, the dialogue around gamemakers themselves has been limited. Most research of gamemakers has focused primarily on professionalized notions of videogame development looking at triple-A, independent, and freelance workers. Even within scholarship that has researched underrepresented communities in the videogame industry and local incubator spaces, the focus has tended to look at professional or aspiring videogame developers. For my dissertation, I researched a two-year ethnography of predominantly overlooked and alternative gamemakers in the Toronto game development scene, such as hobbyists, focusing on the tools, resources, and working conditions in which these gamemakers developed their videogames and creator practices. In my dissertation, I discuss the shifting labour identities and “informal” working conditions of creators, the impact of local artist scenes upon global cultural industries, the information seeking and use practices of digital resources in a creative economy, and revisit notions of the author in the creative process. My dissertation explores how local gamemakers make-do with industry-developed tools and resources to establish grassroots practices and norms that contribute to and shape the development of the wider videogame industry.