"There has been little work in game studies from this perspective, which offers a theoretical frame for the ever growing complexity of the audiences involved with the medium of the video game."
"Since the 1990s, the term subculture has been used in a much broader perspective to explain any group of people who adjust to norms of behaviour, values, beliefs, consumption patterns, and lifestyle choices that are distinct from those of the dominant mainstream culture."
At the same time, however, Harvey introduces another facet of this indie subculture functioning "on the periphery" which offers a workable alternative to mainstream success: what does success look like? Here Harvey refers to the "queering of game design" to mean measures of success that are alternative to money, scalability, popularity, name recognition, awards, and other trappings of what traditionally constitutes success. The framework of Harvey's redefinition is informed by a book written by Jack Halberstam entitled The Queer Art of Failure. According to Halberstam, queering takes place when the definition of success is expanded and altered to encompass different ideas and possibilities, including what some might consider failure. The idea here is that queering game design destabilizes and challenges an industry that can sometimes be exclusionary and unwelcome to the voices of women and other marginalized people.
Harvey's articles spends a lot of time talking about the application Twine and how it is revolutionizing indie, do-it-yourself (DIY) game design. I found a tutorial - How to make games with Twine - in order to get a better sense of what designing with Twine entails. A few screenshots from the tutorial demonstrate the playful and accessible nature of Twine design. As we see here, the tutorial itself playfully congratulates users on being "radical". The tutorial also offers suggestions about what users' games and stories could be about. The examples below suggest subject matter that is personal and pretty mundane, at least in terms of what I normally associate with games. "Personal games" and the personal games movement are designed around everyday topics in one's life or stories surrounding one's personal feelings, challenges, etc. In reading about GamerGate this week, I have come across criticism of these kinds of games suggesting that their personal nature is why games designed by women are not popular. Popularity, however, can be defined by a variety of measures. When someone's voice is labeled as uninteresting or boring, I believe that lack of recognition in mainstream circles is what can lead to the creation of alternative tools such as Twine, etc.
"Twine games challenge mainstream standards by subverting the celebration of difficulty, in both production and play, as they are often quick to both make and play."
For all of the idealism and promise of independent, DIY game design, Harvey also issues a warning to avoid elevating the work to an unrealistic ideal: "...we should be careful not to equate emancipatory promise with poorly paid, insecure work and life below, on, or near the poverty line, dependent on the vicissitudes of crowdfunding." After all, not being able to make a living or pay your rent isn't necessarily romantic, glamorous or emancipating.
Halberstam, J. (2011). The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke University Press.
Harvey, A. (2014). Twine's Revolution: Democratization, depoliticization, and the queering of game design. GAME Games as Art Media Entertainment, 1(3), 95-107. Retrieved from http://www.gamejournal.it/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/GAME_3_Subcultures_Journal.pdf
Nwalozie, C. J. (2015). Rethinking Subculture and Subcultural Theory in the Study of Youth Crime – A Theoretical Discourse. Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology, 7, 1-16. Retrieved from http://www.jtpcrim.org/January-2015/Rethinking-subculture.pdf