1) How do digital distribution/marketplace platforms like Valve Corporation’s Steam change and reshape how play and work are discursively understood and materially practiced?
2) What is the scope and reach of Steam as a “determinant moment” (to use Stuart Hall’s (1980a; 1980b structuralist taxonomy) in the production and reproduction of video games as commodities? More simply, what developers and consumers feel compelled or forced to use it to publish or play video games with it and what ones aren’t?
3) What are the specific techniques, technologies and ideologies deployed on Steam to create work that appears as play, and play that appears as work? This intersects with what might be termed “gamification”, achievement points, flash sales which employ special “trading cards” and other gimmicks.
I finished reading Darius Kazemi’s book about Jagged Alliance 2 yesterday. It’s quite good. I am writing a review of it.
You Heard it Hear First
This Band Should Have Never Gotten Back Together
These are where my thinking is at right now. Read on!
If motorized machines constituted the second age of the technical machine, cybernetic and informational machines form a third age that reconstructs a generalized regime of subjection: recurrent and reversible “humans-machines systems” replace the old nonrecurrent and nonreversible relations of subjection between the two elements; the relation between human and machine is based on internal, mutual communication, and no longer on usage or action. In the organic composition of capital, variable capital defines a regime of subjection of the worker (human surplus value), the principal framework of which is the business or factory. But with automation comes a progressive increase in the proportion of constant capital; we then see a new kind of enslavement: at the same time the work regime changes, surplus value becomes machinic, and the framework expands to all of society. It could also be said that a small amount of subjectification took us away from machinic enslavement, but a large amount brings us back to it. Attention has recently been focused on the fact that modern power is not at all reducible to the classical alternative “repression or ideology” but implies processes of normalization, modulation, modeling, and information that bear on language, perception, desire, movement, etc., and which proceed by way of microassemblages. This aggregate includes both subjection and enslavement taken to extremes, as two simultaneous parts that constantly reinforce and nourish each other. For example, one is subjected to TV insofar as one uses and consumes it, in the very particular situation of a subject of the statement that more or less mistakes itself for a subject of enunciation (“you, dear television viewers, who make TV what it is …”); the technical machine is the medium between two subjects. But one is enslaved by TV as a human machine insofar as the television viewers are no longer consumers or users, nor even subjects who supposedly “make” it, but intrinsic component pieces, “input” and “output,” feedback or recurrences that are no longer connected to the machine in such a way as to produce or use it.
Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus p. 458.
This quote touches on, in its own way, a lot of the themes I’m planning on having my dissertation investigate.