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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.



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