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Games of Empire

Global Capitalism and Video Games

2009
Authors:

Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter

Games of Empire

Analyzes video games and their links with capitalism, militarism, and social control

Games of Empire offers a radical political critique of such video games and virtual environments as Second Life, World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto. Rejecting both moral panic and glib enthusiasm, Games of Empire demonstrates how virtual games crystallize the cultural, political, and economic forces of global capital, while also providing a means of resisting them.

Games of Empire is not only an extraordinarily wide-ranging, rich, empirically grounded, and theoretically-savvy contribution to the field of game studies, but also an instance of that playful genius of immaterial labor that the book crucially investigates. The book is a must-read for all students and scholars of gaming cultures, and an eye-opener to the crucial importance of gaming to the broader level of societal power for everybody else.

Tiziana Terranova, author of Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, video games are an integral part of global media culture, rivaling Hollywood in revenue and influence. No longer confined to a subculture of adolescent males, video games today are played by adults around the world. At the same time, video games have become major sites of corporate exploitation and military recruitment.

In Games of Empire, Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter offer a radical political critique of such video games and virtual environments as Second Life, World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto, analyzing them as the exemplary media of Empire, the twenty-first-century hypercapitalist complex theorized by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The authors trace the ascent of virtual gaming, assess its impact on creators and players alike, and delineate the relationships between games and reality, body and avatar, screen and street.

Games of Empire forcefully connects video games to real-world concerns about globalization, militarism, and exploitation, from the horrors of African mines and Indian e-waste sites that underlie the entire industry, the role of labor in commercial game development, and the synergy between military simulation software and the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan exemplified by Full Spectrum Warrior to the substantial virtual economies surrounding World of Warcraft, the urban neoliberalism made playable in Grand Theft Auto, and the emergence of an alternative game culture through activist games and open-source game development.

Rejecting both moral panic and glib enthusiasm, Games of Empire demonstrates how virtual games crystallize the cultural, political, and economic forces of global capital, while also providing a means of resisting them.

Games of Empire

Nick Dyer-Witheford is associate professor and associate dean of the faculty of Information and Media Studies at University of Western Ontario.

Greig de Peuter is a doctoral candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University.

Games of Empire

Games of Empire is not only an extraordinarily wide-ranging, rich, empirically grounded, and theoretically-savvy contribution to the field of game studies, but also an instance of that playful genius of immaterial labor that the book crucially investigates. The book is a must-read for all students and scholars of gaming cultures, and an eye-opener to the crucial importance of gaming to the broader level of societal power for everybody else.

Tiziana Terranova, author of Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age

Riffing productively on Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s influential Empire, Dyer-Witheford and de Peuter offer a powerful, readable Marxian expose of the video-game industry.

Choice

The authors have undertaken some impressive research.

Neural

Any reader interested in gaming culture in the 21st century will learn a lot from this book; not only about the content of games but the history of the platforms and the interconnections between the sources of military technology and the video game industry.

Times Higher Education

Games of Empire is an engaging account of the history of influences behind video games.

Review in Cultural Theory

Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter’s Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games is absolutely essential reading for any game studies or design scholar. There is no excuse for avoiding this book.

Game Studies

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the field of game studies.

Copygrounds

In Games of Empire, Dyer-Witheford and de Peuter use video games as a case study to illuminate the twin concepts of empire and multitude. Though theoretically satisfying, the book is approachable as the authors explore a diverse range of topics.

Contexts

A very interesting and well-written book.

Global Sociology Blog

Games of Empire is a highly relevant and generally well-written introduction into the role of digital games in the system of global capitalism.

New Media & Society

It is absolutely necessary for people who study games to take the information in this book seriously.

This Cage is Worms