The End of Street Childhood Production of Video Game Spaces: Expansion of Cybercafes in Istanbul

Authors: Serhat Ay*, , Taner Kılıç, Assoc. Prof.
Topics: Recreational and Sport Geography
Keywords: Virtual geographies, cybercafe, , children’s geographies, video games, virtual materiality.
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 35
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper explores how notions of childhood are being influenced by a rapidly
expanding video game culture in 21st Century Istanbul. Until the 2000s, children are
used to producing street games by themselves. Due to the creative industry, it has been
argued that new stages of childhood are being created and defined by children’s role as
consumers. Global creative industries have produced cyberspaces for children by using
everyday culture as a commodity. In Istanbul, children have started to leave the streets
when the rapidly expanding video game arenas have spread to almost all
neighborhoods. Through an analysis of 20 years of data of internet and Playstation cafes
(N:3216), this study reveals spatial patterns and temporal stages of the commodification
of children's games in Istanbul. According to the results of the analysis, we found four
main stages of production of virtual geographies in Istanbul: emerged, rise, stabile, and
revitalization. According to the results, internet cafes are still alive in Istanbul, and new
waves have emerged with e-sports centers and video games. Besides, spatial analysis
of the production demonstrates that working-class neighborhoods still depend on the
internet and Playstation cafes due to high-cost computer technology and refugee
children. In addition to this, Istanbul's cybercafes are represented as a site of masculine
space. The paper demonstrates that video games constitute a significant portion of the
virtual materiality of children's everyday lives in developing countries.

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