The Work of Play: Towards a Marxist Analysis of Video Game Production
The growth of game studies as a discipline (or the increase in research on video games more widely) raises questions about what kinds of theoretical and methodological tools are needed. This talk will argue that a Marxist approach can provide much needed insights into video game production and the digital economy more broadly. The talk begins by tracing a heterodox tradition of Marxist research, beginning with Marx’s call for a workers’ inquiry, subsequent attempts in the post-war period, and contemporary autonomist Marxist forms of co-research. These methods emphasise the processes taking place at the point(s) of production and circulation in contemporary capitalism – linking the development of video games to the global supply chains of both immaterial and decidedly material forms of production. Two examples are highlighted in game development – the struggles over working time (or the prevalence of “crunch time”) and institutional sexism – to illustrate the analytical utility of this approach. The talk argues that a Marxist inspired approach has a twofold advantage: not only illuminating the struggle over what kinds of games are produced, but also uncovers the dialectical struggle between labour and capital in the process of actually producing them.
Dr Jamie Woodcock is a fellow at the LSE. His current research focuses on the digital economy, the transformation of work, and eSports. He has previously been a postdoctoral research fellow on a project on video games, as well as another on the crowdsourcing of citizen science. Jamie completed his PhD in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and has held positions at the University of Leeds, University of Manchester, Queen Mary, NYU London, and Cass Business School.
The guest lecture is made possible by the research group ENCODE.