Affective Labour and the business of making games: video games development in the periphery

Authors: Sebastian Baeza Gonzalez*, University of Manchester
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: Video Games, Immaterial Labour, Latin America
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Calvert Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Video games developers are engaging with their creations, and games in general, in profoundly emotional and deep ways. Since the industry became a mass-market phenomenon, a growing body of research has emerged interrogating and trying to understand the connections between developers and the games they produce, and how these relate to wider affective issues seen in cultural and creative industries (Dyer-Witheford and De Peuter 2009; Wilkie 2016; Schumacher 2007; Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2011). This paper mobilises organisational stories in the video games sector in Chile and analyses the motivations for business formation and video games creation in a location that is part of the global periphery. Drawing on ideas and concepts from immaterial labour (Hardt and Negri 2000; Hardt and Negri 2005), and based on semi-structured interviews with video games developers, the analysis shows that many developers are deeply and emotionally engaged in gaming and games in general, often seeing Japanese and American games as the main source of inspiration and motivation for their creations. As a result, games made in the periphery are essentially locked into the ‘core markets’ tropes, thematics and characters, due to their global cultural influence. Despite being a form of ‘cultural imperialism’ (Mukherjee 2017), developers see this influence as an opportunity to reach broader and different markets, creating content suitable for different clients and projects in various locations, allowing Chilean developers to participate in the global games market.

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