• Tau Esben Lehrmann Prestat
The video game industry has witnessed a significant growth in independent production practices in the past decade following an increase in access to digital distribution. While most of the successful independent games are Western in origin, the ease of digital access to the global market has had a worldwide impact on video game development fields. This includes an impact on the Japanese video game industry, which traditionally released independent works through so-called doujin fields, wherein amateurs release self-financed and self-published works for creative and communal rather than financial purposes. Yet in recent years, a more commercialized independent game production field has been growing in Japan, and doujin game developers are seemingly expanding into production practices mostly associated with Western independent development, abbreviated as indie, rather than the non-commercial motivations associated with doujin culture. Followingly, a variety of independent developers have addressed the ostensible disparities between the terms doujin and indie, as well as how they position themselves relative to the two terms, through various forms of discourse. This thesis will therefore firstly aim to examine and contrast how the meanings of the two terms are constructed in contemporary discourse by prominent game developers. Secondly, the thesis aims to problematize the common notion that doujin production fields are turning into indies by investigating structural and actor-based changes in the respective fields of doujin and Japanese indie game development. The thesis will consequently utilize discourse analysis as a methodological approach to investigate how game developers construct or reconstruct the meanings of the two terms through communication in digital journalistic media and by communicating through their own productions. Moreover, the thesis will use the theoretical frameworks of Bourdieu’s practice theory, Fiske’s theory of popular culture, and Hichibe & Tanaka’s categorical distinctions between hobbyist, indie, and commercial production practices to examine the relative relationships between the various forms of production fields. Major analytical findings include the four following: Firstly, that doujin game production fields emphasize the motivation for community building through creative productions, which are often derivative and collaborative, while financial motivations are still viewed to be contradictory to doujin ideals of creative freedom. As a result, doujin game developers who release games globally do not showcase major changes to their productive practices or motivations, even though they distribute games globally and show increased discursive engagement with the global market. Secondly, Western indie game discourse tends to include amateur productions as a subcategory of independent game productions while simultaneously highlighting commercially successful indie games, whereas doujin game developers usually pose a clear distinction between doujin and indie games depending on the degree of financial motivations of the developer, thereby defining indie game productions centrally around financial motivations. Thirdly, the growing indie game production field is facilitated by the involvement of various actors. These primarily include video game publishers and organizations who hold indie game conventions that aim to develop the Japanese indie game scene at a faster rate, successful commercial developers who have chosen to pursue indie game development rather than working for a company, and successful indie game developers overseas. Fourthly, that the growth of indie game development in Japan is slow, partially caused by language barriers that presents challenges to both localization and marketing potential of Japanese developers and their products.
Publication date4 Jan 2021
Number of pages73
ID: 397930647