Interesting keynote at Google by Swedish authors of State of Play Goldberg and Larsson. In their session they covered the Minecraft story and have since written about video game culture.
One of the key things that they pull out is how social and political themes are starting to come into gaming from independent developers.
I think this is important because of what has happened to gaming over the decades. When the Atari games console first launched, gaming what gender neutral. It gradually became male orientated. This has changed back with casual gaming and games designs like Animal Crossing. But what that means is that we know have distinct gaming communities, rather than an inclusive gaming communities. ‘Girl gamers’ are now a novelty on services like Twitch and some manage to monetise their objectification by their audience.
Those themes are not only in the realm of ‘mainstream’ politics and social discourse. The far right has long understood how it could use gaming. Back in the early 1990s before the web and the internet the way we know it; Concentration Camp Manager was circulated on bulletin boards and via floppy disk.
In games like Second Life or World of Warcraft, their hybrid nature as social and gaming platforms has enabled player political messages and even political culture. Whether it was bodies laid out to spell ut out a message on World of Warcraft, or comments by a popular e-gamer with a political message. Blizzard’s games have become politicised and are likely to become even more so.
One could consider Second Life‘s ‘griefing’ to be a form of unique form of anarchism in its own right. We can only expect this discourse to increase in the future as gaming becomes ever more tightly embedded in culture. Take time out and watch this film for the State of Play authors take on things.