SSC Seminar Series: Jennifer R. Whitson, University of Waterloo

These numbers don’t mean what you think they mean: Game developers' strategic use of big data

Wednesday, November 2, 12:30 to 2pm

MacCorry Hall, Room D411 (Sociology Lounge)

Jennifer R. Whitson 

Drawing from a two-year ethnographic study of game developers in Montreal, Canada, this talk illustrates the human aspect of informational practice, providing a description of what of big data practice looks like in the trenches of digital media production. It documents the rise of data-driven design in the game industry, the resulting shifts in the forms and shape of games being made, and the impact that data-driven design has on the creative autonomy of new media workers. Developers that strategically deploy big data discourses, however, are very aware of the gaps and failures of analytics and are critical of analytics’ influence on game-making, thus illustrating the ways surveillant technologies are resisted, re-appropriated, and re-formed by front-line software developers.

Grad students are also invited to join Jennifer R. Whitson for an informal discussion in Mac Corry room C512 from 10.30 to 11.30 before the seminar.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Jennifer R. Whitson is a sociologist who researches the secret life of software, the people who make it, and how both change our daily lives. Her current projects centre on shifting production models of the global game industry and tracing how risk management practices, datamining, and digital distribution shape developers' creative work and the larger cultural role of games. She's an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology & Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo, on the board of the university's Games Institute, and a Research Advisor for Execution Labs. She's been conducting ethnographic fieldwork work with game developers since 2012.

Everyone Welcome!