Brendan KeoghJun 11, 2023
The Videogame Industry Does Not Exist
Why We Should Think Beyond Commercial Game Production
MIT Press 2023
The videogame industry, we're invariably told, is a multibillion-dollar, high-tech business conducted by large corporations in certain North American, European, and East Asian cities. But most videogames today, in fact, are made by small clusters of people working on shoestring budgets, relying on existing, freely available software platforms, and hoping, often in vain, to rise to stardom—in short, people working like artists.
Aiming squarely at this disconnect between perception and reality, Brendan Keogh's book The Videogame Industry Does Not Exist: Why We Should Think Beyond Commercial Game Production (MIT Press, 2023) presents a much more accurate and nuanced picture of how the vast majority of videogame-makers work—a picture that reveals the diverse and precarious communities, identities, and approaches that make videogame production a significant cultural practice.
Drawing on insights provided by over 400 game developers across Australia, North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia, Keogh develops a new framework for understanding videogame production as a cultural field in all its complexity. Part-time hobbyists, aspirational students, client-facing contractors, struggling independents, artist collectives, and tightly knit local scenes—all have a place within this model. But proponents of non-commercial game making don't exist in isolation; Keogh shows how they and their commercial counterparts are deeply interconnected and codependent in the field of videogame production.
A cultural intervention, The Videogame Industry Does Not Exist challenges core assumptions about videogame production—ideas about creativity, professionalism, labor, diversity, education, globalization, and community. Its in-depth, complex portrayal suggests new ways of seeing, and engaging in, the videogame industry that really does exist.
Rudolf Inderst is a professor of Game Design with a focus on Digital Game Studies at the IU International University of Applied Science, editor of “Game Studies Watchlist”, a weekly messenger newsletter about Game Culture and curator of @gamestudies at tiktok.