The everyday lives of video game developers: Experimentally understanding underlying systems/structures


  • Casey O'Donnell University of Georgia



Anthropology, Creative collaborative practice, Experimental system, Game studies, Games, Video game development, Work/play


This essay examines how tensions between work and play for video game developers shape the worlds they create. The worlds of game developers, whose daily activity is linked to larger systems of experimentation and technoscientific practice, provide insights that transcend video game development work. The essay draws on ethnographic material from over 3 years of fieldwork with video game developers in the United States and India. It develops the notion of creative collaborative practice based on work in the fields of science and technology studies, game studies, and media studies. The importance of, the desire for, or the drive to understand underlying systems and structures has become fundamental to creative collaborative practice. I argue that the daily activity of game development embodies skills fundamental to creative collaborative practice and that these capabilities represent fundamental aspects of critical thought. Simultaneously, numerous interests have begun to intervene in ways that endanger these foundations of creative collaborative practice.

Author Biography

Casey O'Donnell, University of Georgia

Casey O'Donnell is an Assistant Professor in the Grady College at the University of Georgia. His research interests are directly related to the complex socio-technical intersections/interactions that occur during the design and development of computer software systems. These interests extend to the power dynamics that occur in both organizations and informal groups working in areas of software development. Particular areas of inquiry are Video Game Development, FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software), third world and postcolonial aspects of IT, IT offshoring/inshoring, and more generally the IT workplace.