Temporality, selfhood and sociality: experiences of the emergent indie game developer


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The thesis explores how individuals who independently create a new venture in the videogames industry (indies), make sense of the early entrepreneurial period prior to venture creation (nascent entrepreneurship). Via phenomenological interview, the experiences of six indie videogame developers and business owners are explored via interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The study is therefore primarily concerned with exploring the experiences of indie nascent entrepreneurs. The concept of nascent entrepreneurship falls within the broader body of research on new venture creation (NVC), which in contemporary literature is perceived as a process rather than an event (Gartner and Shaver, 2012). As such, this research examines the ‘entrepreneurial journey’ from the position of the entrepreneurs themselves, via IPA of their individual lived experiences. The primary research question thus asks: ‘How do indie videogame developers make sense of their nascent entrepreneurial journey?’

Within academic discourse of entrepreneurship, NVC is seen as crucial (Davidsson and Gruenhagen, 2020), yet the individual experience of nascent entrepreneurship is curiously underrepresented (Gartner, 1985, Davidsson, 2016). Entrepreneurs and the ventures they pursue vary widely across different industries (Gartner, 1985) and as research on the videogames industry in the UK is at best scarce (Kerr, 2017), exploring the early entrepreneurial experiences of indies offers new insights and contributions to knowledge.

Beyond the primary research question, the entrepreneurial journey and motivational factors are also explored from work by relevant authors (Reynolds, 2005, Stephan, Hart and Drews, 2015, Tuazon, Bellavitis and Filatotchev, 2018). These further research questions posed are: ‘What meaning do the dimensions of individual, environment, organisation and process in Gartner’s (1985) model have for indie developers in in understanding their nascent entrepreneurial experience?’, ‘What antecedent motivational factors were meaningful for the participants and to what degree were dimensions of motivation present in participant accounts?’, ‘To what degree were motivational factors present in the activities of the participant nascent indie entrepreneurs?’ and ‘To what degree are discreet stages and transitions reflected in the lived experience of nascent indie entrepreneurs?’

Interpretation of participant narratives illustrates several themes that provide insight into the lived experience of the emergent indie: temporality, the indie journey, selfhood and sociality. The key contribution finds that temporality and sociality are of greater importance to indie nascent entrepreneurs than previously known. The importance of temporality upon nascent entrepreneurial experience manifested via a ‘Golden Age’ which was perceived as a time of great positivity and opportunity. The additional importance of community, autonomy and recognition are also identified as key motivating factors for indies in the videogames industry. The findings identify a need to reconsider conceptual frameworks in entrepreneurship to specifically incorporate temporality and sociality, based on the importance placed upon them by the participants of this study.
Date of Award26 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorSIMON BOLTON (Director of Studies) & CHRISTOPHER DENT (Supervisor)


  • entrepreneurship
  • entrepreneurial nascency
  • new venture creation
  • videogames
  • indie
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis

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