Cultural Production of Video Games: Conditions of Control and Resistance




gamevironments, Video Games, Cultural Production, Platformisation, Resistance, Capitalism


In this article we consider how much control gamers have over game culture and production, arguing that the monopolistic power of corporations has been challenged in many cases by resistant cultures. In the view of the Frankfurt School’s culture industry, ownership and control of the means of production translates into control over culture. Indeed, the high costs of production and platformisation has extended trends of consolidation and control in the video game industry. However, there is also evidence that this consolidation and control can be resisted by digitally native, active, and organised sub-cultures. Such moments occur, we suggest, in part due to the contingent and digital nature of video games, which allows digitally literate players to utilise tools and communities to resist the cultural control of platform owners. In the face of a general tendency to emphasise the winner-takes-all effects of platform technology, our research suggests that technological literacy and enthusiast communities can play a crucial role in governing game production. Examining the games industry, we show that, generally, cultural production is shaped by concerns around profitability, but under some quite particular conditions, the affordances of versatile digital technology can contribute to more idiosyncratic cultural production. We discuss examples such as the Universal Windows Platform (2019), Minecraft (2011) and Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) to provide insight into ways that gamers have influence over video game production.

Author Biographies

Sian Tomkinson, School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia

Sian Tomkinson completed her PhD in gender and games at the University of Western Australia. Her core research focuses are gender, game culture, communities, and identities, and player engagement with video games. Much of Sians work uses Deleuze and Guattarian concepts to unpack player beliefs and behaviour. Sian is working on projects including why players enjoy certain kinds of games and what impact these games have on their attitudes and behaviours; the economics of game production; how game design can impact communities of play; how social media communities regulate toxic gamer behaviour; work on the online extremist group Incels, and vaccination policy and communications. Sian is a lead of Perth Games Lab.

Tauel Harper, Communication and Media, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Tauel Harper is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at UWA. His research focuses on technology and public communication - notably in his two books Democracy in the Age of New Media (2011) and Media After Deleuze (2016). He has published several articles on big data and the public sphere, social media, education, digital games and media persuasion. He currently heads up Perth Games Lab, a research group focussing on game development processes.






Peer-reviewed Articles