"Pro-amateur"-driven technological innovation: Participation and challenges in indie game development

Guo Freeman, Nathan McNeese, Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The phenomenon of end-user driven technological practices such as DIY making, hacking, crafting, and open design/manufacturing is shaping debates in HCI and CSCW about participatory innovation dynamics. However, prior research also reveals two limitations, namely, unequal participation in decision-making and the neglect of middle-tier "pro-amateur" end users. In this paper, we use independent [indie] game development as a case to explore the above-mentioned two key issues. Specifically, we highlight the importance of small teams, "crafting," and "democracy" in supporting and facilitating middle-tier end-users' engagement with technology. Our focus on indie game developers, an understudied group of middle-tier end users in HCI and CSCW, offers new empirical evidence of the dynamic process through which pro-amateurs can participate in technological innovation. Understanding their practices and the socio-technological challenges that they face, therefore, informs the design of more participatory technologies that both allow hobbyists' and experts' innovation and support the technological practices performed by users who are at the middle-tier. This not only promotes the democratization of technology and bottom-up innovation but also adds nuance to existing literature on end-user driven technological practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberGROUP
StatePublished - Jan 4 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


Dive into the research topics of '"Pro-amateur"-driven technological innovation: Participation and challenges in indie game development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this