Raking in $135 billion a year, videogames far outstrip film and music in their generation of vast profits for capital. Yet, despite the importance of the industry as an avenue for capitalist investment and a source of cultural production, it is rarely analysed with the same seriousness as more traditional forms of art and entertainment.
"Marx at the Arcade" is a groundbreaking study of not only the politics and history of videogames, but also of their production: of the terrible working conditions that force horrendous hours during the “crunch”, the intensified exploitation made possible by the supposed glamour of many people’s “dream job”, the atomisation and deskilling of the workforce in the search for greater profit. And, crucially, of the growing efforts of workers across the globe in the industry to organise collectively to demand change.
As class struggle within the sector becomes sharper and more visible, a Marxist framework helps to untangle the vast networks of artists, software developers, and factory and logistics workers whose labour produces commodities that we consume on an ever increasing, mass scale.
For hardcore gamers, digital skeptics, and the joystick-curious, this event is not to be missed.
Acclaimed researcher Jamie Woodcock is a sociologist of work, focusing on digital labor, the gig economy, and resistance. He is currently a fellow at the London School of Economics and is the author of the award-winning Working the Phones (2016). He is on the editorial board of Historical Materialism and an editor of Notes from Below, an online journal of workers’ inquiry.
"Jamie Woodcock has written a book as fun and engrossing as any game. Not only does he bring a sharp Marxist analysis to the videogames industry--in turn, he uses games to further our understanding of Marx. Whether you game or not, an indispensable book." —Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt