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Ethical and professional complications in the construction of multi-developer hobbyist games.

Heron, Michael�James�


Michael�James� Heron


The modern availability of powerful video game development frameworks has resulted in something of an indie renaissance. Within this blossoming of small scale development are numerous hobbyist developers who build games for their own inherent satisfaction rather than with the expectation of any financial remuneration. While many of these individuals labour in isolation, some have undertaken projects of sufficient scale and complexity to require the recruitment of multiple developers over long periods of time. The lack of direct payment for volunteered efforts in such environments creates numerous interpersonal issues that must be considered?these relate to aspects of intellectual property ownership and the treatment of developers, as well as to the expectations of those players who may invest their time in a hobbyist title. The nature of recruitment for such projects is such that formal experience in software development or games design cannot be assumed, and the management complexities this paradigm introduces are of sufficient complexity that few tools are available to ensure the coherent development of a game. This paper is a reflective analysis of the issues that emerged through the development of one such game. The observations contained within however are applicable to all multi-developer projects where financial compensation for contributions are likely to be non-existent.


HERON, M.J. 2016. Ethical and professional complications in the construction of multi-developer hobbyist games. Computer games journal [online], 5(3), pages 115-129. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 15, 2016
Online Publication Date Aug 24, 2016
Publication Date Dec 31, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 3, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2017
Journal Computer games journal
Print ISSN 2052-773X
Electronic ISSN 2052-773X
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 3
Pages 115-129
Keywords Hobbyist development; Epitaph; Multi developer projects; Collaboration; Video games; Game development
Public URL


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