Sub-Versions: Investigating Video Game Hacking Practices and Subcultures

Sub-Versions is my thesis in Concordia University’s Media Studies (MA) program.

Over the past decade, the increased accessibility of software tools and online marketplaces has created a fertile ground for independent game development. Yet despite these new opportunities, a subculture of developers has opted to eschew modern game creation platforms to instead modify the games of their childhood. By repurposing and revitalizing a variety of “classic” titles, these video game hackers are pursuing an unusual definition of free-to-play – one where out of circulation games are redeveloped and redistributed illicitly.

For my thesis project at Concordia University, I will investigate the projects, tools, and communities that emerge from the practice of video game hacking. By combining interviews, textual analysis, and interative writing, I will purposefully and productively generate knowledge about the novel gameplay mechanics and narratives that emerge through video game hacking and the motivations that inspire hackers to challenge a variety of legal and technical barriers.