Likers Get Liked. Platform Capitalism and the Precariat in Death Stranding
Keywords:Precariousness, Precariat, Platform Capitalism, Kojima, Death Stranding, Play, Ritual, Homo Ludens, gamevironments
AbstractKojima Productions’ Death Stranding (2019) imagines a post-apocalyptic future in which the United States has been broken apart into isolated, individualist communities. Players assume the role of Sam Bridges, a courier for the seemingly ubiquitous Bridges corporation, who is tasked with reunifying the country by linking the cloistered settlements to the Chiral Network, allowing communication and the sharing of resources between those connected to it. In Death Stranding, the themes of control and precariousness resonate through both semiotics and procedure. Bridges, as a symbol for the game’s procedural mechanics, asks players to make connections between what Sam is asked to do (by Bridges) and what they are asked to do (by the videogame). Drawing parallels between Bridges and platform capitalism, this paper will examine Death Stranding as an allegorithm, in Alexander Galloway’s terms, to reveal how the game replicates the real world systems of precarization of an emerging class of workers: the precariat. This paper argues that Death Stranding becomes a ritualization of precarious labor and that the playful disposition it engenders provides a starting place to begin reassessing our modes of democratic participation.