Material Practices of Coordination and Innovation in the Design and Development of Computer Games

Taking as its starting point the growing interest in organizational studies regarding the role of objects and the material (Engestrom and Blackler 2005), this article investigates the role of objects and artefacts in the coordination involved in the development of computer games. The article draws on a comparative study of three leading UK computer games design and development studios the aim of which was to capture an in-depth understanding of the way in which the developers studied create, leverage, and alter shared objects in this work and describe the interactions of the developers both with these objects and with one another in their work. Rather than seeing formal and emergent coordination as antithetical, the article explores the link between formal and emergent types of coordination encountered in the development of computer games to show the important role objects and artefacts play in making this dynamic dialogical relationship work. Furthermore, the article explores, through this link between formal and emergent coordination, how many difficult to represent experiential and aesthetic features of the games are rendered explicit and captured in order to become addressable through the existing formal coordination practices of the studios and how contingencies and previously under-determined elements of the games under development are dealt with.

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