Devcoms: A Study of Videogame Developers' Community-Building Rhetorics Leading to Launch

Nathaniel Francis Golding, Lorenzo Hu, Chris Ge Lin, Irfan Kanat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Competition in the gaming market is fierce. Yet, Independent (“Indie”) Game Developers (IGDs) with limited resources managed to carve out an existence. In the IGD scene, the social media platform Twitter is considered ideal for intra-industry marketing and community building. In this study, 31 indie games and 17,599 tweets from official IGD accounts were coded and analysed according to their targeted audience (Broad vs. Narrow), message (Inclusionary vs. Exclusionary), and timing. Our findings indicate that commercially successful games converge on a pattern of rhetoric we dubbed ‘The SHuFL Model’, consisting of four phases: 1) a phase of ‘Seeding’ tweets to raise discoverability; 2) a ‘Feeding’ phase of active community engagement; 3) a ‘Leveraging’ phase where network effects are leveraged for a successful launch; 4) an optional ‘Hunting’ round of proactive solicitation during the ‘Seeding’ phase. ‘The SHuFL Model’ can be utilized by “grassroots” marketers to overcome platform gatekeeping.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 30th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS)
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2022
Article number17
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe 30th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2022: New Horizons in Digitally United Societies - Universitatea de Vest din Timișoara (UVT) / West University of Timişoara (WUT), Timisoara, Romania
Duration: 19 Jun 202224 Jun 2022
Conference number: 30


ConferenceThe 30th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2022
LocationUniversitatea de Vest din Timișoara (UVT) / West University of Timişoara (WUT)
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems


  • Brand communities
  • Community building
  • SHuFL
  • Game development
  • Indie developer
  • Social media marketing
  • Qualitative
  • Rhetoric analysis
  • Thematic analysis

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