Sub-Versions: Investigating Video Game Hacking Practices and Subcultures is my thesis in Concordia University’s Media Studies (MA) program.
Over the course of a year, I have been investigating the projects, tools, and communities that emerge from the practice of videogame hacking. By combining interviews, qualitative game analysis, and iterative writing, my goal is to purposefully and productively generate knowledge about videogame hacking subcultures – communities of creative labour that exist in the margins of mediamaking and the fringes of the law. Basically, I’m talking to people who hack videogames, playing their hacks, and then writing about it!
Accompanying my thesis is a blog – one that has allowed me to gradually formulate tentative propositions from my research, present them in an accessible manner, and invite feedback from readers. My approach is inspired by Laurel Richardson’s Writing: A Method of Inquiry and Writing Strategies: Reaching Diverse Audiences, in which she poses two ideas that she believes are vital to qualitative writers. She encourages researchers to “understand ourselves reflexively as persons writing from particular positions at specific times” and to free ourselves from “trying to write a single text in which everything is said to everyone.” Working with the understanding that research data is somewhat malleable, Richardson encourages researchers to create diverse interpretations and presentations of their knowledge.
I found a blog to be the ideal medium for this type of iterative writing as it is an accessible, no-strings-attached publication platform. If at any point during my research I feel inspired to write (or rant) upon a topic, I can just go ahead and do it without worrying about publication formalities. Blogs are also versatile media platforms, which allowed me to include images, videos, links, and more. Through posts and pages, I’ve been able to create a sort of makeshift research depository — one that I constantly return to in order reflect on the earlier phases of my research and follow-up on leads that may have fallen by the wayside.
My thesis should be wrapped up in the summer of 2019, at which point I will be presenting on my findings at the CGSA and DiGRA.