Digital play: the interaction of technology, culture, and by Stephen Kline

By Stephen Kline

A uniquely serious examine of video gaming that blends views from political financial system, cultural experiences, and communications theory.

Digital Play bargains a uniquely serious research of interactive media. encouraged via the paintings of Raymond Williams, the booklet lines the improvement of video gaming from its humble origins in hacker circles to its present prestige as a $20 billion worldwide cultural undefined. Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, and Greig de Peuter systematically debunk cyber-guru optimism approximately globally networked electronic communications via analysing the administration practices of the firms that designed and advertised games to younger audiences. They demonstrate that the ascent of this new communications has been something yet gentle and inevitable. From Atari to Microsoft, house Invaders to The Sims, the authors discover the successive crises that compelled video game makers, confronted with consistent instabilities within the worldwide leisure region, to turn into more and more innovative.
In a market that calls for perpetual enhancements, the survival of interactive play finally is determined by the adroit administration of negotiations among video game manufacturers and younger shoppers of this new medium. The authors recommend a version of growth that encompasses technological innovation, online game layout, and advertising practices. Their case research of video gaming exposes basic tensions among the opposing forces of continuity and alter within the details economic system: among the play tradition of gaming and the spectator tradition of tv, the dynamism of interactive media and the more and more homogeneous mass-mediated cultural industry, and rising versatile post-Fordist administration thoughts and the surviving options of mass-mediated advertising and marketing. Digital Play indicates a destiny now not of democratizing stressed capitalism yet rather than carrying on with tensions among "access to" and "enclosure in" technological innovation, among inertia and variety in pop culture markets, and among commodification and unfastened play within the cultural industries.

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22 Media content on television was, after all, transparently simplistic, biased, and mindless – massaged by corporate barons to appeal to suggestible and passive audiences who already had so little control over their own lives that they were happy to escape into the mediated fantasies. The expanding media was a system pacifying and distracting consumers from the oppressive drudgery of their lives, the “bread and circuses” that kept contemporary workers blinded to their own exploitation. Adapting Marx’s thought to media analysis was not always easy or productive.

In part two, “Histories,” having established our theoretical orientation, we submit the development of interactive entertainment media to a critical historical analysis and, in so doing, clear away some of the smoke – and the sense of inevitability – that has muddled debates about the trajectory of digital media culture. Following Williams’s suggestion that critical analysis must discern the “intentionalities” that enable and constrain both cultural and technological possibility, we examine the video game industry’s technological innovations, digital design practices, and audience-building tactics as they emerged within particular historical moments and specific institutional constellations.

Interactivity, for example, may not only be empowerment and education but also loss and amputation, as digital aptitudes squeeze out or devalue other nonelectronic capabilities. McLuhan’s perceptions therefore seem crucial to understanding video gaming and virtual technologies. But as many critics have pointed out, there are major weaknesses in his work. His definition of media as prosthetics conflates technologies, media, and social forms, obscuring important differences in the social contexts and purposes in which media are developed and used.

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