Exploring Indie Game Development: Team Practices and Social Experiences in A Creativity-Centric Technology Community

  • Guo FreemanEmail author
  • Nathan J. McNeese


The emergence of various interest-based online communities has led to the popularity of new forms of distributed creative teamwork such as citizen science, crowdsourcing, and open source software development. These new phenomena further complicate the context and content of distributed creative teamwork: what are the characteristics of these new forms of creative teams? And how do they shape people’s perceptions and social experiences of distributed creative teams? In this paper, we report our empirical research of the team characteristics and practices in a creativity-centric technology community (i.e., independent [indie] game development) in hopes of exploring these questions. Our findings show that 1) indie game development teams are formed upon shared aspirations and use various strategies to collaborate with friends or online strangers; and their team practices are achieved through a balance between individual creativity and collective vision as well as a collaborative learning for problem solving and self-improvement; and 2) these teams mediate new forms of social interaction and collaborative experiences, featuring a mix of online comradery and weak social ties, and a mix of self-confidence and self-confliction. Using this new dataset and research context, we confirm and extend existing theories of distributed creative teams in CSCW. We also argue that studying these small-scale, self-selected, and interest-based teams can inform the design of collaborative systems to support various creative teams’ social needs.

Key Words

Distributed creative teams Computer-mediated collaboration Indie game development 



We thank our participants and the anonymous reviewers. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under award 1849718.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ComputingClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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