Igniting GameZombie TV: A Longitudinal Autoethnography of a Student-Fueled Game Media Studio
Spencer Striker, The University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States
The University of Wisconsin - Madison . Awarded
"Igniting GameZombie TV" utilizes an accessible, energetic, postmodern style to recall how Spencer Striker founded GameZombie TV at Indiana University in the fall of 2006, built the project into an award-winning game media studio, and then expanded the initiative to the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 2009. Through grit and a sustained strategy of inspirational leadership, Spencer Striker guided the project from the kernel of an idea to 4 Webby Awards, 10 million unique video views, coverage of 24 major game conferences, one of the web's largest game developer interview libraries, and over 500 original videos published to the web. At its height, GameZombie TV incorporated the combined efforts of an 80 person team working synergistically at two American universities—cumulatively, over 500 people contributed meaningfully to this dynamic game media studio, fueled by a culture of restless creativity. This dissertation resurrects the energy and drama of the studio's development into a sophisticated operation, which included three separate divisions: web video production, web design, and entrepreneurial business development. This longitudinal postmortem attempts to locate the "zombie particle"—that mysterious flashpoint where the leader; the team; and the affordances of a 21st century work environment combine to spark a project to life. The style of the piece foregrounds the importance of play and the creative process in the thinking through of a past phenomenon—one in which the author was the central architect. Part One tells the story of GZ's origins. Part Two recalls the fateful journey of GZ's business aspirations. And Part Three resurrects the making of the hit web show, ButtonMashers. Finally, the dissertation builds toward 48 major themes—of leadership, philosophy, culture, industry, and survival—intended to serve as a survival guide for leaders striving to ignite digital media projects fueled by passion, creativity, and innovation.
Striker, S. Igniting GameZombie TV: A Longitudinal Autoethnography of a Student-Fueled Game Media Studio. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Wisconsin - Madison.
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