Proposal Sketch September 2022

Adrian Demleitner

I am particularly interested in the indie video-game scene1 and especially in video games as a creative medium. From a design perspective, the production of indie-games entails interesting aspects. Similar to self-publishing in graphic design, the creators of indie-games need to develop what Harry Collins calls interactional expertise (Collins, 2004). The concept describes the ability to converse in multiple disciplines and is closely connected to the concept of trading zones2.

Instead of being able to focus on one discipline, as would be the norm in medium to large-scale projects, indie-game developers need not only to consider different types of skills, but also different kinds of epistemologies. Coding lives in its own space of knowledge, compared to graphic design, and vice versa. These in turn can be considered hard skills, whereas publishing and advertisement are more on the side of soft skills. The different design-related disciplines, such as graphics, audio, interaction, narration, but also publishing, coding and others, all entail their own tool-chains and workflows.

As a design practice, this is an interesting case that I’d like to have a closer look at. That said, currently I’m unsure what the specific questions could be. I believe that the current outline of the PhD position and setup of the research project, with its different subprojects, would allow for an interesting inquiry. Starting at the history of visual design, then making connections to related disciplines and media opens into a view on multidisciplinary practices and interactional expertises. I could imagine, that this trajectory would enable me to make a comparison between video game designers of the early days and today.

Basically, I would like to focus on the multidisciplinary design practice of solo or small-team video game creators. I also see a potential in furthering the development of the HGP method by integrating such an approach. The disciplinarity framework (McComb & Jablokow, 2022) might be of value.

Method-wise I usually lean towards ethnography, and I’m often interested to make inquiries into infrastructures and practices and the interplay of these two aspects.


Collins, Harry. “Interactional Expertise as a Third Kind of Knowledge.” Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3, no. 2 (June 1, 2004): 125–43.

McComb, Christopher, and Kathryn Jablokow. “A Conceptual Framework for Multidisciplinary Design Research with Example Application to Agent-Based Modeling.” Design Studies 78 (January 1, 2022): 101074.