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Entanglements of creative agency and digital technology: A sociomaterial study of computer game development

Panourgias, N.S., Nandhakumar, J. & Scarbrough, H. (2014). Entanglements of creative agency and digital technology: A sociomaterial study of computer game development. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 83(1), pp. 111-126. doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2013.03.010


Digital technology, with its distinctive characteristics that result from the fundamental process of digitalization that underpins it, is seen as fundamentally altering processes of creativity. However, we currently have limited understanding of creativity in relation to the development of digital technology. Computer game development, with its combination of esthetic, affective and cultural use features and highly sophisticated digital technologies, is a valuable setting for investigating these issues. In this paper, we explore how computer games are shaped through the interplay between the creative intentions of developers and the digital technologies involved in their production and playing. Drawing on in-depth studies conducted at three leading computer game development studios and a leading producer of the software system used in game development, this paper shows how the game developers' creative ideas for imagined novel game-playing experiences relate to a) the development of relevant digital technologies, and b) the emergence of new game development practices. The article goes on to propose a view of creativity as an on-going flow that, following an initial ‘creative impulse’, ripples through the sociomaterial entanglements of a particular setting, reconfiguring them in the process and spreading out in time and space in often unexpected ways.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Computer games; Creativity; Digital technology; Creative agency; Practices; Sociomateriality; Game engines
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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