PředmětyPředměty(verze: 901)
Předmět, akademický rok 2021/2022
  
Game Production Studies - JKM193
Anglický název: Game Production Studies
Český název: Produkce herního průmyslu
Zajišťuje: Katedra mediálních studií (23-KMS)
Fakulta: Fakulta sociálních věd
Platnost: od 2021
Semestr: letní
E-Kredity: 5
Způsob provedení zkoušky: letní s.:
Rozsah, examinace: letní s.:2/0 Zk [hodiny/týden]
Počet míst: 15 / neurčen (15)
Minimální obsazenost: 10
Virtuální mobilita / počet míst: ne
Stav předmětu: vyučován
Jazyk výuky: angličtina
Způsob výuky: prezenční
Poznámka: předmět pro jiné fakulty
předmět z jiné fakulty
předmět je možno zapsat mimo plán
povolen pro zápis po webu
při zápisu přednost, je-li ve stud. plánu
Garant: Mgr. Jan Švelch, Ph.D.
Vyučující: Mgr. Jan Švelch, Ph.D.
Třída: Courses for incoming students
Anotace - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Jan Švelch, Ph.D. (07.01.2022)
This class explores the production aspects of video games. Paradigmatically, it draws from scholarly areas of production studies, critical political economy, and game studies. The goal of the class is to give students the ability to critically assess how production processes and infrastructures affect the commodities created by video game industries as well as video game cultures that emerge around them. Students will also learn about the working conditions of video game developers, highlighting the precariousness of video game employment, but also the vocational passion, which is common also to other creative and cultural industries. Other topics will include monetization, amateur game-making, distribution, platformization, or localization.
Podmínky zakončení předmětu - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Jan Švelch, Ph.D. (14.02.2022)

To successfully complete the class, students have to submit all fortnightly assignments (6 in total) and the final essay. The (approximately) fortnightly assignments are relatively small in their scope (usually within the range of 150-500 words) and connected to major themes of the class. Students can pick their own topics for the final essay (2500-4500 words), however the chosen topic has to be relevant for game production studies.

Grading criteria:

Fortnightly class assignments: 30%

Final essay: 70%

Grading scale:

A: 91-100, B: 81-90, C: 71-80, D: 61-70, E: 51-60, Fail: <50

Literatura - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Jan Švelch, Ph.D. (07.01.2022)

Sotamaa, Olli, and Jan Švelch, eds. 2021. Game Production Studies. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Available in open access: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1hp5hqw

(selected references)

Bulut, Ergin. 2020. A Precarious Game: The Illusion of Dream Jobs in the Video Game Industry. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press.

Chang, Alenda Y. 2019. “Between Plants and Polygons: SpeedTrees and an Even Speedier History of Digital Morphogenesis.” Electronic Book Review, December. https://doi.org/10.7273/WTDF-7W30.

Chia, Aleena. 2019. “The Moral Calculus of Vocational Passion in Digital Gaming.” Television & New Media 20 (8): 767–77. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851079.

Consalvo, Mia. 2013. “Dubbing the Noise: Square Enix and Corporate Creation of Videogames.” In A Companion to Media Authorship, edited by Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson, 324–45. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Garda, Maria B., and Paweł Grabarczyk. 2016. “Is Every Indie Game Independent? Towards the Concept of Independent Game.” Game Studies 16 (1). http://gamestudies.org/1601/articles/gardagrabarczyk.

Kerr, Aphra. 2017. Global Games: Production, Circulation and Policy in the Networked Era. New York, NY: Routledge.

Nicoll, Benjamin, and Brendan Keogh. 2019. The Unity Game Engine and the Circuits of Cultural Software. Cham: Palgrave Pivot.

Nieborg, David B. 2014. “Prolonging the Magic: The Political Economy of the 7th Generation Console Game.” Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture 8 (1): 47–63.

O’Donnell, Casey. 2014. Developer’s Dilemma: The Secret World of Videogame Creators. Inside Technology. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Ozimek, Anna M. 2019. “Outsourcing Digital Game Production: The Case of Polish Testers.” Television & New Media 20 (8): 824–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851088.

Srauy, Sam. 2019. “Professional Norms and Race in the North American Video Game Industry.” Games and Culture 14 (5): 478–97. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412017708936.

Weststar, Johanna, and Marie-Josée Legault. 2019. “Building Momentum for Collectivity in the Digital Game Community.” Television & New Media 20 (8): 848–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851087.

Whitson, Jennifer R. 2019. “The New Spirit of Capitalism in the Game Industry.” Television & New Media 20 (8): 789–801. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851086.

Whitson, Jennifer R. 2020. “What Can We Learn From Studio Studies Ethnographies?: A ‘Messy’ Account of Game Development Materiality, Learning, and Expertise.” Games and Culture 15 (3): 266–88. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412018783320.

 

(non-academic sources)

Akiaten, Brandon. 2019. Raising Kratos. Documentary. Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Chartier, Jean-Simon. 2019. Playing Hard. Documentary. MC2 Communication Média.

D’Anastasio, Cecilia. 2018. “Inside the Culture of Sexism at Riot Games.” Kotaku. August 7, 2018. https://kotaku.com/inside-the-culture-of-sexism-at-riot-games-1828165483.

———. 2019. “Riot Employees Say Company Has Made Real Progress Fixing Its Sexism Issues.” Kotaku. August 7, 2019. https://kotaku.com/riot-games-and-sexism-one-year-later-1837041215.

Pajot, Lisanne, and James Swirsky. 2012. Indie Game: The Movie. Documentary. BlinkWorks Media.

Schreier, Jason. 2017. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories behind How Video Games Are Made. First edition. New York, NY: Harper Paperbacks.

Sylabus - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Jan Švelch, Ph.D. (14.02.2022)

Main Themes:

Industrial vs Amateur Game Development

Video game industry had emerged in the 1970s, however throughout history it co-existed with amateur game development. Later, the rejection of the industrial way of making games led to the creation of the indie scene. Currently, there are multiple sectors of game production (AAA, indie, mobile, etc), all of which have their specificities in terms of how such games are produced.

Key references:

Consalvo, Mia, and Christopher A. Paul. 2019. Real Games: What’s Legitimate and What’s Not in Contemporary Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ruffino, Paolo. 2020. Independent Videogames: Cultures, Networks, Techniques and Politics. Routledge.



Video Game Monetization

Since the beginning of commercial video game production, developers and publishers have used different strategies to generate revenue, drawing inspiration from established entertainment industries. Monetization strategies influence how players engage with games and also affect how developers design and maintain them. We will discuss the differences between upfront payments for the so-called premium games and various forms of continual (or additional) monetization for freemium games.

Key references:

Neely, Erica L. 2019. “Come for the Game, Stay for the Cash Grab: The Ethics of Loot Boxes, Microtransactions, and Freemium Games.” Games and Culture, November, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412019887658.

Van Roessel, Lies, and Jan Švelch. 2021. “Who Creates Microtransactions: The Production Context of Video Game Monetization.” In Game Production Studies, edited by Olli Sotamaa and Jan Švelch, 197–215. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.



Publishing, Distribution, and Platforms

In order to get their games to players, developers have to deal with several intermediares, which curate, fund, and otherwise influence which games are made and how they are sold. Historically, publishers had financial control over video game markets, but digital distribution and with it the emergence of indie games have lowered the entry barriers for video game developers. At the same time, distribution platforms such as App Store, Steam, Epic Games Store, itch.io and console manufacturers Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have become important actors, whose exclusivity deals, content rules, or recommendation algorithms profoundly affect the video game ecosystem. 

Key references:

Nieborg, David B., Chris J. Young, and Daniel J. Joseph. 2019. “Lost in the App Store: The State of the Canadian Game App Economy.” Canadian Journal of Communication 44 (2): 57–62. https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.2019v44n2a3505.

Werning, Stefan. 2019. “Disrupting Video Game Distribution: A Diachronic Affordance Analysis of Steam’s Platformization Strategy.” Nordic Journal of Media Studies 1 (1): 103–24. https://doi.org/10.2478/njms-2019-0007.



Tools and Processes of Video Game Production

Video game development is influenced by the available technological tools, such as game engines Unity or Unreal, or the access to player metrics, which has contributed to growing importance of data-driven design. Commercial video game production also exhibits a high degree of imitation caused by the limited copyright protection for gameplay mechanics. Other notable processes include vast outsourcing in areas of quality assurance but also art assets and other areas of production.

Key references:

Chang, Alenda Y. 2019. “Between Plants and Polygons: SpeedTrees and an Even Speedier History of Digital Morphogenesis.” Electronic Book Review, December. https://doi.org/10.7273/WTDF-7W30.

Foxman, Maxwell. 2019. “United We Stand: Platforms, Tools and Innovation with the Unity Game Engine.” Social Media + Society 5 (4). https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305119880177.

Roessel, Lies van, and Christian Katzenbach. 2020. “Navigating the Grey Area: Game Production between Inspiration and Imitation.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 26 (2): 402–20. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856518786593.



Video Game Labor

Employment in video game industries is marked by precariousness, comparatively low salaries, and crunch (prolonged periods of mandatory overtime). Video game companies often exploit vocational passion of developers, who are willing to accept worse working conditions in exchange for the promise of self-realization. Video game industry as a whole presents structural barriers for women and other underrepresented groups.

Key references:

Chia, Aleena. 2019. “The Moral Calculus of Vocational Passion in Digital Gaming.” Television & New Media 20 (8): 767–77. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851079.

Cote, Amanda C., and Brandon C. Harris. 2021. “The Cruel Optimism of ‘Good Crunch’: How Game Industry Discourses Perpetuate Unsustainable Labor Practices.” New Media & Society, May, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448211014213.

Weststar, Johanna, and Marie-Josée Legault. 2019. “Building Momentum for Collectivity in the Digital Game Community.” Television & New Media 20 (8): 848–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851087.



Authorship and Development Roles

Most commercial video games are created by large teams, but authorship tends to be claimed by select individuals in specific roles, similarly to how film and television industries operate. The hierarchy of game development roles prioritizes certain professions (e.g. the core game development tetrad: designer, programmer/engineer, artist, and producer) and relegates others, such as quality assurance professionals or community managers, to support roles.  

Key references:

Švelch, Jan. 2021. “Developer Credit: Para-Industrial Hierarchies of In-Game Credit Attribution in the Video Game Industry.” Games and Culture, July, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1177/15554120211034408.

Whitson, Jennifer R, Bart Simon, and Felan Parker. 2018. “The Missing Producer: Rethinking Indie Cultural Production in Terms of Entrepreneurship, Relational Labour, and Sustainability.” European Journal of Cultural Studies, December, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549418810082.



Industrial Reflexivity

Similarly to other creative industries, the video game industry not only produces cultural commodities but also reflects on its inner workings and procedures in self-reflexive genres such as postmortems, behind-the-scenes materials, or even game development simulators. These self-representations attempt to shape the public perception of video game companies and video game production.

Key references:

Švelch, Jan. 2021. “Shadow Academy of Video Game Production—Industrial Reflexivity of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 38 (1): 18–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2020.1844906.

Whitson, Jennifer R. 2020. “What Can We Learn From Studio Studies Ethnographies?: A ‘Messy’ Account of Game Development Materiality, Learning, and Expertise.” Games and Culture 15 (3): 266–88. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412018783320.



Transformative Video Game Content

The business of video games is not limited to production and sales of games but now also includes commercial activities, which build upon and transform video game content. Perhaps the most prominent examples are video game live-streaming and esport, which can be considered media enterprises in their own right but which also shape the way established industry actors operate and promote their products.

Key references:

Boluk, Stephanie, and Patrick LeMieux. 2017. Metagaming: Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. https://manifold.umn.edu/read/metagaming

Taylor, T.L. 2018. Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. http://watchmeplay.cc/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/WatchMePlayCC.pdf



Local Game Development and Video Game Localization

Despite the globalized video game markets and distribution platforms, the video game industry is not one homogeneous entity, but a network of regional, national, and local video game industries with their own histories and specificities. Geopolitical circumstances, such as state support or tax reliefs, affect the profile and activities of video game companies and determine which parts of the industry are considered the cultural center and which are, on the other hand, treated as peripheries and fulfill less prestigious roles as outsourcing providers.

Key references:

Nakamura, Akinori “Aki,” and Hanna Wirman. 2021. “The Development of Greater China’s Games Industry: From Copying to Imitation to Innovation.” In Game Production Studies, edited by Olli Sotamaa and Jan Švelch, 257–92. Amsterdam University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv1hp5hqw.

Švelch, Jaroslav. 2018. Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 
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