The book Video Games as Culture. Considering the Role and Importance of Video Games in Contemporary Society has been published. Written with Garry Crawford (University of Salford), the book explores video game culture from a sociological point of view.
What is Video Games as Culture about?
The fundamental premise of this book is that there is a growing and consolidating video game culture (understood as the institutionalization of video game practices, experiences, and meanings), which permeates our societies, and provides a significant lens from which we can analyze wider social issues in contemporary society. Video games are therefore understood as an expression of life and culture in late modernity. Hence, this book provides an important perspective for understanding video games as experience, culture, and sociotechnical assemblage, but it also provides a consideration of how video games and their culture can help us understand aspects of social life such as work, education, culture, agency, power, experience, empathy, and identity in today’s world. In particular, the book introduces complex notions that affect contemporary society through video game culture, making these ideas more tangible and accessible.
This book, then, makes an original and novel contribution to knowledge, particularly in the fields of sociology, media and cultural studies, and game studies. In this sense, the book employs insights from a range of social actors implicated and influential in various areas of video game culture. While most research in this field tends to focus on a particular aspect of gaming, or a particular type of social actor such as certain kinds of video gamers, developers, or other professionals of the industry, this research considers the roles and attitudes of those in various positions ranging from casual to avid gamers, to games designers, journalists, and also those often missing from research in this field, such as games academics, and those involved in the wider cultural interpretation of games, such as museum directors. This text also integrates a number of key concepts and ideas frequently employed in game studies, but rarely is their meaning, value, or use fully elaborated. Thus, the book pushes game studies into a number of scarcely explored areas, and sets out new theoretical and methodological frameworks for the analysis of video games, gamers, and video game culture.
Who are the potential readers of Video Games as Culture?
This book is intended for a wide range of potential readers; from game studies, social science, and media and cultural studies scholars, to PhD, Masters, and higher-level undergraduate students, including anyone interested in the study of video games, its culture, and wider issues that affect contemporary society. Video Games as Culture is a book that offers original, novel, and significant insights into different areas, topics, and notions that are relevant to contemporary society such as: video game culture, video gamers, video game experiences, identity, agency, experience, empathy, digital and participatory cultures, and neoliberalism, to name but a few.
There are only a few works that aim for a comprehensive mapping of what games as a culture are, and how their complex social and cultural realities should be studied, as a whole. Daniel Muriel and Garry Crawford have done so, analyzing both games, players, associated practices, and the broad range of socio-cultural developments that contribute to the ongoing ludification of society. Ambitious, lucid, and well-informed, this book is an excellent guide to the field, and will no doubt inspire future work.
Frans Mäyrä, Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, University of Tampere
This book provides an insightful and accessible contribution to our understanding of video games as culture. However, its most impressive achievement is that it cogently shows how the study of video games can be used to explore broader social and cultural processes, including identity, agency, community, and consumption in contemporary digital societies. Muriel and Crawford have written a book that transcends its topic, and deserves to be read widely.
Aphra Kerr, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Maynooth University