The subversion of gaming

I like this older, but still very current and significant text by Nick Dyer-Whiteford, because his approach to gaming echoes our double approach in p2p theory, i.e. that peer production is SIMULTANEOUSLY coopted by the present dominant system, while at the same time strengthening aspects which transcend it.

Here are the conclusions of his analysis, but the full and recommended essay, on the gaming industry as example of the logic of cognitive capitalism, is here.

Nick Dyer-Whiteford:

“1) Video and computer gaming demonstrates the extraordinary success of cognitive capitalism in enclosing emergent forms of general intellect in a smoothly integrated, constantly expanding global circuit of commodification. In production it demonstrates the foundation of a new industry built on the mobilization of an elite immaterial workforce, whose activities are supported by a penumbra of vital but un- or low paid activities conducted either by volunteer prosumers, and underpinned by the immizeration of maquiladora labor. At the level of consumption and social reproduction, games disseminate virtual scenarios appropriate to hyper-militarized finance capital with primary investment interests in the cyborg arenas of biotechnology and digitization. To this extent, video and computer gaming exemplifies the triumphant subsumption of biopower by the forces of cognitive capital.

2) Video and computer games demonstrates how general intellect drives toward the supersession of capital. At the level of production, they reveal the dependence of new media on forms of « dot. communist » activity, such as open source and freeware, and the implosion of the commodity form under the pressure of the escalating piracy inherent to networks. More generally, the digital socialization of youth through gaming discloses a subversive face in a proliferation of cyberactivist and hacktivist practices that both explode within game culture and overspill into more manifestly political spheres. By circulating the skills and technology necessary for virtual experimentation with social organization, video and computer games have unwittingly democratized capacities for popular planning and collective self-organization hitherto been concentrated in the hands of capitalisms military and managerial cadres. Interactive play thus demonstrates the corrosive force with which contemporary biopower undermines cognitive commodification.

Both statements are true. It is by the enfolding of their simultaneously existing yet mutually destructive affirmations that the conditions of class struggle in cognitive capitalism are defined.”

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