A Shack, a House, a Prison

The analogy of the shack and videogame production

Jackson Cover Image

I want to be very careful about how I approach this subject. I do not claim to speak for videogame production writ large, nor do I want to. I am concerned with forming a body of knowledge around certain exploitative practices which occur in much of the videogame industry – an industry to which unfortunately few game scholars have ready access. Like the historical development of television, radio, and film, videogame production is experiencing growing pains that need to be addressed if the conditions are ever going to change. This article utilizes the analogy of the ‘shack’ as developed by Bachelard (1964) and Robertson (2011) to understand one of the struggles that prospective and early-career videogame developers often experience: being recruited for their passion (Kerr and Kelleher, 2015; Bulut, 2014 and 2015; Johnson, 2013a, 2013b, 2019), then having that passion used against them. In other words, appealing to the ‘passion’ of employees allows for exploitative working conditions and work culture, all under the auspices of someday “making it” in videogames (O’Donnell, 2014, 153). Continue Reading

The Ethics of Commodification:

Game Modding and the New Digital Economy

Steam-Workshop

With the emergence of the active Web 2.0 user and their relationship with affective labour, more media consumers have transformed into producers. Despite the liberation that this has offered some, cyberspace has allowed institutions to wield corporate and political power over Internet users by providing the tools for them to effectively commodify themselves (Hermosillo). Through collective intelligence, which Henry Jenkins qualifies as the mobilization of the skills of the masses, companies have been accused of appropriating online user-generated content for commercial purposes. As a result, theorists such as Tiziana Terranova have insisted that the new digital economy that is run by “free labor” consumes culture by embracing productive activities while simultaneously exploiting them. Continue Reading