Money & Games blog note, #moneygames

A quick note about the Money & Games seminar, based on the first day: I was expecting the relationships between money and games to be diverse and rather complex field, and I was not disappointed by the seminar. The idea that game could be seen as a straightforward product that someone just builds, and then sells to someone else for a fixed sum of money is not how things play out – and, as the historical reviews of the seminar pointed out, is not that typical about how things have been in the past, either. For example, the entire era of game arcades was based on coin-operated games, where the economic incentive was to design for short, micropayment style transactions: every time the player failed, the was room for another coin to be spend (something that Sebastian Deterding’s ambitious “Toward Economic Platform Studies” paper and presentation was particularly emphasising). Value of games and monetary and time-based investments are intricately intertwined, and it is clear that e.g. putting a higher price tag on something can mean that pleyers are more likely to expect it to be of higher quality, or value, than a cheap game. Thus, setting the right price involves theorycrafting practice of game business economics of its own – or “valuecrafting”, like the paper presented by Mia Consalvo suggested about indie developers. Free-to-play business model and the associated monetization strategies were particularly discussed in the seminar, with several interesting case studies focusing on that, plus the more philosophically oriented paper by Olli Heimo et al. used it, plus industry advertising practices as a target of (Aristotelian) virtue ethics based criticism. There were comments expressed in the seminar that the political economy angle of the entire free-to-play sector would be something that would be valuable at this point. On the other hand, while Janne Paavilainen presented the first results from a detailed micro-ethnography in Armoured Warfare game, pointing out the multiple “dark design patterns” or manipulative tricks that tempt the free-riding player to become a paying player, Markus Montola was quick to point out that many of the analysed design choices actually sounded just like good, regular game design that is balanced and appropriately both challenges and rewards the player – and Janne agreed that Armoured Warfare is an example of good game design; free-to-play payments are just used to make an already good game to play even better. Great papers, presentations, and discussions, thanks everyone! Also, our invited commentators, Pauliina Raento and Juho Hamari, did excellent job in providing commentary and guidance, Pauliina also giving a keynote talk of her own about doing gambling studies, about the lessons she personally has learned from her history in this field, and that made the valuable point about importance of bridge building between isolated academic communities. – Link to the seminar program page: https://gamemoneyseminar.wordpress.com/program/

Video Game Policy: new book

Video Game Policy (book cover).
Video Game Policy.

Most recent book to come out in the Routledge Advances in Games Studies series that I have contributed into: Video Game Policy: Production, Distribution, and Consumption (edited by Steven Conway & Jennifer deWinter) is now available for pre-order. Here is the table of contents, including our co-authored chapter on re-conceptualizing what “video game violence” is, and means, with Gareth Schott:

Introduction – Steven Conway & Jennifer deWinter

Section I: Intellectual Property, Privacy, and Copyright

1.Laws of the Game: Intellectual Property in the Video Game Industry – Mark Methenitis

2.Digital Locks, Labor, and Play in Canada’s Copyright Policy: Filtering Power through Configurations of Game Development – Owen Livermore

3.The Princess Doesn’t Leave the Castle: How Nintendo’s WiiWare Imprisons Indie Game Design – Theo Plothe

4.Policies, Terms of Service, and Social Networking Games – Stephanie Vie

Section II: Rating Systems and Cultural Politics

5.E(SRB) Is for Everyone: Game Ratings and the Practice of Content Evaluation – Judd Ethan Ruggill and Ken S. McAllister

6. Games for Grown-Ups?: An Historical Account of the Australian Classification System – Steven Conway and Laura M. Crawford

7. Rockstar versus Australia – Mark Finn

8. Play Britannia: The Development of U.K. Video Game Policy – Ren Reynolds

Section III: Violence in Video Games

9. Re-conceptualizing Game Violence: Who Is Being Protected and from What? – Gareth Schott and Frans Mäyrä

10. Playing Around with Causes of Violent Crime: Violent Video Games as a Diversion from the Policy Challenges Involved in Understanding and Reducing Violent Crime – James D. Ivory and Adrienne Holz Ivory

11. Banning Violent Video Games in Switzerland: A Public Problem Going Unnoticed – Michael Perret

12. Toxic Gamer Culture, Corporate Regulation, and Standards of Behavior among Players of Online Games – Thorsten Busch, Kelly Boudreau, and Mia Consalvo

Section IV: Politics and Regulations

13.The Right to Play in the Digital Era – Tom Apperley

14. Against the Arcade: Video Gaming Regulation and the Legacy of Pinball – Carly A. Kocurek

15. Curt Schilling’s Gold Coins: Lessons for Creative Industry Policy in Light of the 38 Studios Collapse – Randy Nichols

16.The Ban on Gaming Consoles in China: Protecting National Culture, Morals, and Industry within an International Regulatory Framework – Bjarke Liboriussen, Andrew White, and Dan Wang

17. Regulating Rape: The Case of RapeLay, Domestic Markets, International Outrage, and Cultural Imperialism – Jennifer deWinter

Afterword – Ashley S. Lipson

The publisher’s web pages with ordering information can be found at: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138812420.