The Global Videogames Industry.pdf
RANDY NICHOLS is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Niagara University, New York, USA.
Studying Video Games as a Cultural Industry An Industrial History of Video Games The Structure of the Video Game Industry Video Games and Other Cultural Industries Labor and Production in the Global Video Game Industry Making Sense of the Global Video Game Industry Tables and Figures Appendix: Corporate Profiles References
Over the last decade, videogames have become an increasingly important arm of the global cultural industries. Profits from videogames have not only surpassed Hollywood's annual box office, but videogames have come to be seen as a important industry, offering potential for growth in a variety of countries. The videogame industry has also seen some of the more determined moves towards convergence of any media industry. Relatively unhampered by the sorts of legal and regulatory battles faced by industries such as telecom and broadcast, videogame platforms have already made numerous inroads to convergence. One example, the Sony Playstation 2, offers not only the ability to play videogames but also, with a relatively inexpensive hardware add-on, the ability to connect to the Internet as well as the capability to play DVDs and CDs. This has meant that the markets that video games draw on have expanded beyond being 'toys for teenage boys' to include high numbers of females and users over the age of 35. At the same time, increasing numbers of university programmess have sprung up, focusing on the design of videogames, and a number of governments have begun to explore ways to not only use games for political means but also to develop their own national industries in hopes of taking a slice of the global market. Such moves have placed videogame production as part of the information industry with all its associated benefits and baggage. A view of videogames that sees them as an industry - even an information industry - must examine videogames as commodities geared towards producing a profit. Understanding videogames in this way impacts not only our understanding of them as a cultural phenomenon of them but also changes the way we must theorise them. In spite of this, there has been little attention given to the origins of the industry, its ties to other media production, or to its logics of production. 'The Global Videogames Industry' addresses these concerns, providing not only an economic history of the sector but also a description of its current production processes. It draws on a critical political economic framework to analyse the inner workings of the industry. Particular focus is given to the major players in the industry and their ties to other areas of the cultural industries. It also examines labour and production in order to better address problems faced by potential workers in the industry, including lack of union representation, high employee dissatisfaction, gendered labor patterns, and lack of employee mobility. In addition, it provides case studies of the development of major industry players and how they have come to influence the current global production of video games.