from pong to planet quake

gamemodding as post-industrial unwaged work

POSTIGO, HECTOR R. 2003. From Pong to Planet Quake: Post-industrial transitions from leisure to work [.pdf | 88KB]. Information, Communication & Society 6(4):593–607.

In the closing weeks of 2002, video games were featured in various popular
American news publications and media outlets such as Wired, Entertainment
Weekly, Newsweek and Time Magazine. It is becoming increasingly apparent that
video games are no longer child’s play, but rather that they are poised to become
a major entertainment form for the twenty-first century. Social analysts and
media scholars must begin to formulate an understanding of this emerging
mass-consumer phenomenon because it will increasingly impact social and
economic structures of post-industrial societies. Part of the tremendous value
generated by the American video-game industry is tied into broad global economic
shifts that have created a space where services and ephemeral products,
such as software, can be created and cheaply distributed. The predominance
of ‘high-tech’ production, the rise of the Internet, and the cultural capital
associated with computerization all have contributed to the rise of hobbyist
software developers that currently tinker with commercial video games and
freely add to them increasing levels of sophistication. This paper sees videogame
programmer hobbyists as a source of some of the significant value that
the video-game industry generates, and understands the role of the programmer
hobbyists through the lens of theories on post-industrial work. My analysis
situates the work of hobbyists on the Internet within the context of post-
Fordism and explores some of the motivations for this unwaged work. In the
sections that follow, I will analyse the potential value of the work hobbyist do
as well as analyse its transition to paid work as some commercial software
developers experiment with incorporating these fan bases into the game design

unwaged work, mods, modders, modifications, hackers

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