In the first decade of the twenty-first century, video games are an integral part of global media culture, rivaling Hollywood in revenue and influence. No longer confined to a subculture of adolescent males, video games today are played by adults around the world. At the same time, video games have become major sites of corporate exploitation and military recruitment.In GaIn the first decade of the twenty-first century, video games are an integral part of global media culture, rivaling Hollywood in revenue and influence. No longer confined to a subculture of adolescent males, video games today are played by adults around the world. At the same time, video games have become major sites of corporate exploitation and military recruitment.In Games of Empire, Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter offer a radical political critique of such video games and virtual environments as Second Life, World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto, analyzing them as the exemplary media of Empire, the twenty-first-century hypercapitalist complex theorized by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The authors trace the ascent of virtual gaming, assess its impact on creators and players alike, and delineate the relationships between games and reality, body and avatar, screen and street.Games of Empire forcefully connects video games to real-world concerns about globalization, militarism, and exploitation, from the horrors of African mines and Indian e-waste sites that underlie the entire industry, the role of labor in commercial game development, and the synergy between military simulation software and the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan exemplified by Full Spectrum Warrior to the substantial virtual economies surrounding World of Warcraft, the urban neoliberalism made playable in Grand Theft Auto, and the emergence of an alternative game culture through activist games and open-source game development.Rejecting both moral panic and glib enthusiasm, Games of Empire demonstrates how virtual games crystallize the cultural, political, and economic forces of global capital, while also providing a means of resisting them....
|Title||:||Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games|
|Number of Pages||:||320 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games Reviews
A lot of good material despite the leftist/pomo rhetoric and posturing. The analysis of the Grand Theft Auto games was particularly valuable. Excessive use of secondary and dated sources, I found.
I wish I had read this book when I was doing my PhD thesis: because concepts such as 'immaterial labour'; 'cognitive capitalism'; the 'cognitariat' would have been very handy indeed while I was searching for ways to describe the new class.This book is difficult but very much worth reading about the broader implications of a creative medium (video gaming) that is of growing social and cultural significance. The new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varofakis has worked of a video game chief economist, and the 'gamefication' of the media generally (e.g. by making 'big data' presentations interactive) is only just beginning.That said, the book is also a testament to how quickly the world is changing. It was published in 2009, yet it uses the term 'video' game which seems rather old hat. The 2009 date also means that - although it pays a lot of attention to the role of consoles in sections discussing machines - it largely misses the tablet and mobile 'revolution' of devices on which people actually play games.On the political side of things this book would be fruitfully read in conjunction with Cory Doctorow's novel 'For the Win' which dramatises a workers revolt within the 'gold farming' sweatshops of multiple member online games (lead by the IWWWW: International Workers of the World Wide Web). Dyer-Whiteford and de Peuter are really only tentative about how the commodified space of gaming could facilitate anti-capitalist activities, but you can never see the revolution until it arrives.
Nick Dyer-Witheford lays out the problematic elements of the game industry very eloquently in this book. The overwhleming themes of violence and capital in gaming don't just lead to a repetitive experience for gamers, they hint at a much seedier element that normalizes war and materialism. Some of my own favorite games are guilty of using these themes. I would hope game designers would read this book and take another, critical look at the games they are letting into the market. Oh course, as we know from the EA chapter, they don't have the freedom to change anything unless they go independent and lose funding. Incidentally this book is very depressing if you want to go intot he business of making games. Just be aware.
1) "Inhabitants of Second Life are, in other words, class-divided, property-owning, commodity-exchanging, currency-trading, networking, energy-consuming subjects of a comprehensively capitalist order. Welcome to your second life---much like the first."2) "Virtual games are exemplary media of Empire. They crystallize in a paradigmatic way its constitution and its conflicts. Just as the eighteenth-century novel was a textual apparatus generating the bourgeois personality required by mercantile colonialism (but also capable of criticizing it), and just as twentieth-century cinema and television were integral to industrial consumerism (yet screened some of its darkest depictions), so virtual games are media constitutive of twenty-first-century global hypercapitalism and, perhaps, also lines of exodus from it."3) "Robinett's addition to Atari's Adventure is legendary in game culture as the first 'Easter egg,' a secret feature designed into a game awaiting player discovery. Such surprises soon became a staple feature in game design. That they originated in an act of protest not only demonstrates how capital gets some of its best ideas from the resistance it provokes but, more broadly, shows the problems that attended the conversion of hacker games into a for-profit industry driven by a new type of wage labor."4) "While elsewhere male prerogatives were being challenged, virtual games thus congealed as a sphere of cultural 'remasculinization.' As late as the mid-1990s, 80 percent of players were boys and men. The military origins of simulations, the monasticism of hacker culture, the bad-boy arcade ambience, testosterone niche marketing, developers' hiring of experienced (hence male) players, game capital's risk-averse adherence to proven shooting, sports, fighting, and racing formulae---all combined to form a self-replicating culture whose sexual politics were coded into every Game Boy handheld, every Duke Nukem double entendre, and every booth babe at industry conferences, where women appeared only as imperiled princesses and imperiling vixens, a male head-start program, building and consolidating the gender stratification within immaterial labor."5) "The socialization necessary for populations to endure and endorse such an ongiong condition of life [perpetual war] brings us to the concept of 'banalized' war. In this situation, war becomes part of the culture of everyday life, with 'the enemy' depicted as 'an absolute threat to the ethical order' and 'reduced to an object of routine police repression.' The long-standing interaction of video game culture and the military apparatus is a component in this process of the banalization of war."6) "Noting that RMT [real money trading] and power leveling are at least as much problems of demand as supply, driven by North American players' desire to buy shortcuts to game success, Yee suggested this virulent distaste for farmers repeated a historically familiar pattern of Sinophobia and, more broadly, of Western racism against mobile, precarious foreign labor."7) "Sectioned off into multiple distinctly named territories, Vice City's cityspace spans the opulent Leaf Links, an island golf and country club for the city's affluent, with metal detectors at the entrance for their enhanced security, and, at the other extreme, Little Haiti, a run-down neighborhood where you'll find wooden shacks, including one inhabited by a Haitian gangsta matriarch, Auntie Poulet, and numerous dubious, and dangerous, businesses. But the aim of Vercetti's journey through this uneven socioeconomic landscape is to occupy it, activate it, and network it into a setting for optimal capital accumulation. Presenting players with missions carrying injunctions like 'Kill the competition,' and orbiting around 'unlocking' accumulation opportunities, Vice City puts market imperatives and their rewards into playable form."8) "There is no shelter at all from corruption, violence, and 'cruel segmentation.' The game presents a no-exit situation. GTA contains occasional allusions to the fierce genealogy of radical politics in North American communities of blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other immigrant and minority communities---but only to negate their potential. Though the narrative of San Andreas, for example, contains individualized moments of minority alliance against repression, 'these tantalizing possibilities are never fleshed out with actual game-play.' The game's 'narrative dilemma' is, says Dennis Redmond, that the protagonist's 'quest for personal redemption cannot serve as a template of collective resistance to neoliberalism.' It is, in fact, vital to the ideological consistency of the games' demonic satire that brutalization, racism, and greed be ubiquitous. In GTA IV a prominent theme is that of the poor exploiting the very poor. There may be other options; but you can't play them---and that is what makes GTA a game of Empire."9) "One might say that while games tend to a reactionary imperial content, as militarized, marketized, entertainment commodities, they also tend to a radical, multitudinous form, as collaborative, constructive, experimental digital productions. This schematization is approximate and simplified---but it points to the deep ambivalence of video game culture."
I had this book for years and slowly made my way through it. Taking something really fun (video games) and mixing it with something interesting but not very fun (critical theory) does not make for a breezy read. Nevertheless I would recommend it to anyone interested in critical analysis of digital games, game culture and game industry. The authors' analysis of the global context of Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft are both expert and revealing.
Not the easiest read of my life, but definitely one of the more interesting of my academic career!
Cool history of Military programs like ARPANET and game production history. Useful. Uses autonomists' concepts for much of its analysis.