My game in your gallery? Professional game developers as artists
Katherine Neil

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1. Specifically, by the Diverse Worlds Project at Bond University in Australia. See: Brand, Jeffrey (2003) ‘Don’t criticize the effects of video games on kids, exploit them!’, Bond University ePublications.

2. Games are important because game industry turnover is bigger than that of Hollywood.’ Sadly, this is usually the line used by mainstream journalists in place of venturing into an intelligent discussion about the medium itself and its relationship to contemporary culture.

3. The blossoming of the ‘casual games’ industry since 2004, however, has seen a minor renaissance of bedroom coding. The casual games space, which took off in 2004 on the web and PC downloads and is now moving onto the consoles. While very simple and derivative games dominate in this space, the market has opened up a renaissance for smaller, developer controlled teams and projects that one day may merge with development for the ‘core’ games market.

4. Espen Aarseth argues that ‘2001 can be seen as the Year One of Computer Game Studies as an emerging, viable, international, academic field,’ in his editorial for the International Journal of Computer Game Research, Volume 1, Issue 1. July 2001

5. For a critique of the industry’s business model, see: Costikyan, Greg (2006) / ‘Death to the Game Industry, Long Live Games’ / The Escapist; and Lanning, Lorne, interviewed by Matt Martin, ‘Odd Man Out’,,

6. See Van Zelfden, N. Evan (2006) ‘Critical Issues Facing Indie Game Developers’, The Escapist, 13 Jul 2006. Note that ‘independent developers’ in this context is used to signify development studios that are not owned by a publisher.

7. For examples, see the games Escape From Woomera, Super Columbine Massacre RPG, and 911 Survivor.

8. See Askwith, Ivan (2003) ‘A Matrix in every medium’,; See Waters, Darren (2005) ‘Spielberg takes film magic to EA’, BBC News Online. See Waters, Darren (2006) ‘Director Jackson signs Xbox deal’, BBC NEWS Online, 2006

9. see Chuck Klosterman (2006) Esquire Magazine, July; and Johnson, Joel (2006) ‘Klosterman: There are no game critics’, Kotaku, June

10. In 2006 David Rejeski proposed that there be state support for games based on the public broadcasting model. See: David Rejeski (2006) ‘Why we need a corporation for public gaming’

11. Cultural coming of age when game developers stood in defiance of the censorshop of Super Columbine Massacre RPG at Slamdance. Consciousness was raised and the double-standard applied to film vs game was exposed.

12. Inspired by the ‘The New Journalism’ movement of the 1970s.

13. This comparison between games and the cultural elevation of the novel, film, TV and comic forms is often raised in discussions about games as art, but I believe this is simplistic when the differing historical, economic and technological contexts for these media not taken into account. For instance, the novel form was adopted relatively early by the intelligentsia as a rapidly accessible vehicle for serious content while the moral panic around novels was only just beginning; television was rescued in its infancy by state intervention in the form of public broadcasting initiatives; and comics have, arguably, never truly enjoyed mainstream acceptance as an art form by wider society (with the possible exceptions of French and Japanese cultures), despite notable works in the medium.


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Katharine Neil
is a New Zealand born game developer, with an academic music background. She has worked in the game industry since 1998 as a sound designer and programmer in Australia and France. Her non-professional activities have included co-founding Australia's annual independent game developers' conference Free Play, and under the pseudonym ‘Kipper’, initiating and directing the Escape From Woomera project in 2003 - a somewhat notorious collaboration between a journalist and a game development team to create a videogame based on the mandatory detention of asylum seekers in Australia. As an occasional writer, Katharine has aired opinions on the political and cultural aspects of videogames.