This was the second major piece I had written and it was, again, written for the Kasama Project. I had a great deal of enjoyment writing this piece since it enabled me to come further into textual criticism at a time when it was still fairly new to me. The piece deconstructs the reactionary, and sometimes progressive, elements of modern video games and posits a dialectical analysis of the video game industry. In the future, I think this is a piece that I would like to re-visit, especially in the light of GamerGate, but for now, I post it here for posterity.
Video games have become a cultural icon. Despite both conservative and liberal demonization the onslaught has done little to stem the growth of the industry. With annual growth rates exceeding that of the U.S economy and billions of dollars in profits the influence of video games is wide and varied. Many millions of people play these games; many are young, many more are older. There is no typical depiction of a gamer even though their average age is 30.
I myself game though not as much as I once did[i]. My early days spending in front of the television or portable game console taught me many things which I did not hear from teachers and certainly not from my parents[ii]. Things such as honor, respect, understanding and friendship, through the emotionally involving plots, these prized traits were drilled into my mind and greatly affected the person who I am today[iii].
You may laugh at this assentation, it is normal to do so[iv]. Yet it is unfortunate it is normal that many people probably did indeed laugh at the above statement. I consider this unfortunate because the medium is so rich and powerful that those who laugh do not understand the allure and potential of video games.
Such people do not understand that people of all shades, from all classes and political persuasions, enjoy these games. That for some it is a hobby while for others it is a job. For me it will only ever be a hobby, one that I indulge in on an increasingly rare occasion.
Yet this hobby has applications which I do not think have been seriously investigated by political forces outside of the developer’s narrow intentions. No organization has given its critique of online gaming[v], of how it relates to the struggle, or how persecution of video games hurts youth rights and workers’ rights.
Because this critique does not exist I decided to write one. I willingly spell out my thoughts in this matter because I believe that eventually someone, or some group, will formulate a successful cyber-approach and be skilled in nabbing people from the online gaming realm to enter their convoluted fold[vi] (whether religious, political or civil).
I do not claim this manuscript is a completed “end-all” draft or a master one that lays everything bare. I do not substitute it for street work or community organizing. Rather it is an exploratory work aimed at initiating discussion on a topic that I feel has been neglected.
The central question within is this: can the online masses be led to socialist thought and can the revolutionary gamer reach them through their favorite medium, or is it a dead end? This has been on my mind recently and is a topic that I feel needs to be explored.