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Call for Papers: Indie Interfaces Symposium

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Call for Papers: Indie Interfaces Symposium

Call for Papers – Indie Interfaces Symposium
Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre
Concordia University, Montréal, Canada
Thursday, September 28 – Saturday, September 30, 2017


To succeed in indie games, simply making a “good game” is no longer enough (if it ever was). Capturing an audience and making a living has become increasingly difficult for indie developers, placing many in positions of economic and cultural precarity. In addition to the considerable labour of making games, to have a hope of success, developers must be constantly hustling and managing relationships with networks of other developers, players, and industry actors, as well as within their own teams. In this perilous environment, entrepreneurial and business acumen is of equal if not greater importance as creative vision and technical skill.

Contrary to the romantic indie auteurism exemplified by Indie Game: The Movie, in the contemporary indie gaming ecosystem, press, curators, and popular influencers, publishers, platform holders, government agencies, community organizations, co-working hubs, festivals, and other institutional actors play a crucial role. These intermediaries, brokers, coordinators, and maintainers do not primarily make or consume games; rather they “interface” between different sectors of the game industry and gaming culture, producing or extracting value and exerting a structuring influence on the field.

These aspects of indie game development elude analysis; they are rarely acknowledged and difficult for outsiders to perceive. The “Indie Interfaces” symposium seeks to redress this by examining the largely invisible labour and social-material scaffolding that enables and sustains indie game development.

“Indie Interfaces” is an intimate industry-academic symposium designed to facilitate knowledge exchange between academics and influential actors working in the field of indie games. Held in Montréal, a city renowned for its diverse and vibrant game development communities, this pathbreaking event will combine roundtable discussions among industry attendees and academic research presentations to foster productive, critical dialogue and collaboration. Moving beyond definitional debates about what counts as indie, this symposium is intended to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary academic work that can feed forward into game industry practices.

The organizers are seeking submissions from academics doing research on indie games (defined broadly), with a specific focus on the actors, objects, and processes that scaffold independent game production, distribution, and consumption. All proposals are welcome, including those that engage the following topics and approaches:

*   Cultural intermediation and brokerage in and around indie games;
*   Maintaining, curating, and mediating games scenes and communities;
*   Indie career paths, precarity, venture labour, and gig economies;
*   Indie games and cultural/economic policy;
*   Geographies of indie game development (local, regional, transnational);
*   Economic and cultural sustainability in indie game development;
*   Collaborative workspaces and creative communities;
*   Ethnographic Studio/Production Studies of both development and community organizations;
*   “Above” and “below the line” labour in indie game development;
*   Indie game festivals, conventions, showcases, and exhibitions;
*   Analyses of indie game distribution, consumption, and reception;
*   Labour advocacy and organization in and around the games industry;
*   Entrepreneurship and innovation in indie games;
*   Political and cultural economies of indie games;
*   Analyses of gendered labour in and around indie games;
*   Affective, emotional, and relational labour;
*   Comparisons to film, music, and other forms of independent cultural production.

Please submit 300 word abstracts, along with a brief author biography, to<> by June 5, 2017. Notifications will be sent out by the end of June. Full draft papers will be due August 1, 2017 and will be circulated to attendees in advance to encourage focused, productive conversations during the symposium.

Symposium organizers: Dr. Felan Parker (Concordia University), Dr. Jennifer Whitson (University of Waterloo), and Dr. Bart Simon (Concordia University)

The Indie Interfaces Symposium is made possible by the “Indie Interfaces: Examining Independent Game Development Support Networks” SSHRC Insight Development Grant, and the “Re-Figuring Innovation in Games” SSHRC Partnership Grant. Support is also provided by the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology and the Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre at Concordia University, as well as GamePlay Space co-working hub in Montréal.

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