Computer Games and the Social Imaginary

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-10-07
  • Publisher: Polity Pr

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In this compelling book, Graeme Kirkpatrick argues that computer games have fundamentally altered the relation of self and society in the digital age.

Tracing the origins of gaming to the revival of play in the 1960s counter culture, Computer Games and the Social Imaginary describes how the energies of that movement transformed computer technology from something ugly and machine-like into a world of colour and ‘fun’. In the process, play with computers became computer gaming – a new cultural practice with its own values.

From the late 1980s gaming became a resource for people to draw upon as they faced the challenges of life in a new, globalizing digital economy. Gamer identity furnishes a revivified capitalism with compliant and ‘streamlined’ workers, but at times gaming culture also challenges the corporations that control game production.

Analysing topics such as the links between technology and power, the formation of gaming culture and the subjective impact of play with computer games, this insightful text will be of great interest to students and scholars of digital media, games studies and the information society.

Author Biography

Graeme Kirkpatrick is senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Manchester.

Table of Contents

Chapter one: Computer games in social theory
1. Gaming and the social imaginary
2. The gamer as a ‘streamlined self’
3. Social theory and critique
Chapter two: Lineages of the computer game
1. The revival of play
2. Technology and the dialectic of invention
3. Artistic critique and the transformation of computing
Chapter three: The formation of gaming culture
1. From games as technology to the discovery of ‘gameplay’
2. The ‘authentic’ gamer
3. Gaming’s constitutive ambivalence
Chapter four: Technology and power
1. Organising an industry
2. Globalisation and cultures of production
3. Technology, power and resistance
Chapter five: The phenakisticon
1. MMPGs in recognition-theoretic perspective
2. The limitations of engineered sociability
3. Gamification and the diminution of gameplay
Chapter six: Aesthetics and politics
1. The aesthetic dimension
2. Art, play and critique
3. Critical gaming?

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