The Toronto Indies: Some Assemblage Required

  • Daniel Joseph Ryerson & York Universities


This article seeks to develop an approach to independent video game production through a synthesis of recent work in assemblage theory and critical political economy. As an alternative to the (still important and useful) institutionalist political economic work of Kerr (2006) or Dyer-Witheford & de Peuter's immaterial-labour oriented study in Games of Empire (2009), I propose studying videogames through their historically and materially specific context, thinking about videogame development communities as assemblages (DeLanda, 2006). Both approaches have the tendency to reduce videogames – in the former to the institutional character of the organization, and in the latter to an overdetermination of discourses and material in global flows of capital. The assemblage of videogame production should not be conceptualized as an object overdetermined by global capital's immanence towards new forms of immaterial labour. Rather it is negotiating its way through capital, state bureaucracies, aesthetics, ad hoc decision making and the flows of bodies through urban spaces. The work of videogame production is both immaterial and expressive, as much as it is firmly grounded in existing material relationships to a panoply of objects. This paper then has two goals: 1) to illustrate an ontology and method of political economy and 2) contribute to the growing scholarship on indie games.