Formal and Informal aspects of media culture


#1

Brendan Keogh wrote an essay which suggests that the use of the terms “informal” and “formal” are useful in better understanding a symbiosis between the efforts of institutions and smaller collectives.
Personally, I’m more interested in the distinction between commercial and hobbyist games because I think that games made for selling are significantly different than games made for other reasons (and that difference is allows me to find what I want to play at a given time more easily). But I still find the essay useful especially in clarifying the distinction between formal and informal “indie”.
I think the essay only begins to address the following questions, but I find myself asking them often:
“Who else makes videogames? Who aren’t we talking about when we talk about videogame development as a practice? How might we account for those creators, and why do we need to?”


#2

I like Brendan’s stuff generally (I ravenously consumed his book on Spec Ops: The Line). So I tried to get through this, I really did. But it’s a presentation on academically-focused research, with all the wit and charm that implies.

But the “Who Else Makes Videogames” question is interesting. It’s a thought that occurred to me the other day while playing a mobile game that lets you watch ads to earn in-game currency. It was constantly serving up ads for different games, all with surprisingly well done art, graphics and complex systems. There are hundreds, if not thousands of these types of games out there. I would guess that the majority of the videogame industry is on mobile, but that entire segment of the industry is rarely even touched on at any gaming website of significance.


#3

It’s when folks point out things like this that I realize my interests aren’t as grand and inclusive as my language tends to imply.
Hypothetically, there is no reason that I wouldn’t be able to find mobile-games that interest me (I like low technological-effort experimental stuff motivated by a desire to experiment), but I haven’t. I just installed a .apk file on my phone from itch.io for the first time, I know that’s not really what you are referring to but…
This is a good example of why I find myself more interested in the distinction between commercial and hobbyist than the formal/informal distinction. I don’t really have an interest in casino-games on mobile made by a small studio that are intended to make a profit. I want free Jake Clover mobile-games but I don’t know where to find them.
Actually I think he made one and Barnaque did too but I don’t think they are free