At the age of 34, British Marxist sociologist and researcher Jamie Woodcock published the book “Marx no Arcade” in 2019, which was translated the following year by the publisher Autonomia Literária. He claims he became a fan of Karl Marx by criticizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq by his student fighters.
Working at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, Woodcock lives with left-wing movements in video games. He supports the union of workers in the gambling sector, who face job uncertainty with increasingly low and unequal salaries, in addition to the well-known “crunch” – this is the process of continuous development of the electronic game the day before its launch. .
O. DCM Contact Jamie Woodcock for an exclusive interview. He said that he is a fan of the British studio ZA / UM role-playing game Disco Elysium, which openly deals with topics such as leftism, anarchism and fascism in the investigative conspiracy.
World Center Diary: You said in the book “Marx in Arcade” that the video game industry and the weapons industry are close. Says they grew up together mostly in the US. Is it possible to develop other types of industry with other topics outside the US military complex?
Jamie Woodcock: There is a long historical connection between video games and the military industrial complex. This can be seen from the birth of video games with techniques that belonged to the military sector and the organizational connections that continue to this day.
It is entirely possible to develop another type of industry without a connection to the US military complex. The video game industry has evolved greatly over the last 50 years and now has a wide selection of games.
But even though ties with the United States military have been severed, video games are still made in a combination of social relations that continue to be shaped by militarism and colonialism. This happens directly or indirectly.
Along with the wave of workers’ organizations in the industry, there have also been attempts to make trade unions or organizations as communities, as well as games made for or with trade unions.
Let me give you a few examples: “Super Anti-Union Campaign Simulator”, developed by CWA members at the Meow Wolf Collective. There were also jams [maratonas de desenvolvimento] Games like Notes from Below in the UK, with the IWGB Game Workers section.
DCM: Do you think about indie games? [jogos independentes] Are they another way of creating games without the ideology of neoliberalism?
JW: Indie games can offer distance from AAA studios [a chamada grande indústria] Test different ways of making games. Many indie games are very different from the annual licensed sports games [como FIFA] Or the latest title in the FPS franchise [jogos de tiro em primeira pessoa].
The video game industry has always had resistance and push dynamics since the first developers created the games. This continues to this day, with people changing games and turning them outside of traditional industrial structures.
Take Counter-Strike, DOTA or League of Legends, for example, which started as modifications [modificações ilegais] From existing games. However, capitalism has been very successful in rediscovering the creativity and subversive dynamics of other ways of creating games.
Independent games are not the solution to the problem of neoliberal or capitalist ideology, but they can be part of an experiment in what an alternative culture or practice might be like.
DCM: What do you think about games like Disco Elysium or Papers Please? Do they represent the leftist views of the gaming industry?
JW: I believe Disco Elysium is a masterpiece in the form of a game. This is a game that enters politics without forcing a player perspective. This is an important distinction between “political games” and games with politics. The former often speak openly about having a political goal – and so talk to an audience that is already interested in that policy.
This, of course, has its uses, but it is more limited than the games in which politics takes place. Disco Elysium is a game of resistance that has no clear division. It has one of the most effective mental health representations I have ever seen in a game, bringing new mechanics and a powerful script.
The game process is also a process of reflection on Revanchol politics. [cidade do game] And people you know. For me it was the starting point of many discussions about politics and games, even long after I actually played the game.
It will be very interesting what they will do in the next game – the challenge of the second album of the group.
DCM: What do you think about the trade union movement and the game workers’ union as we have it in American media like Kotaku and its journalists?
JW: I think the trade union movement of workers in the industry has been one of the most exciting in video games for a long time. I have participated in the UK Workers’ Union as well as industry collective action cases through Game Worker Solidarity.
I think it has the potential to change the industry, change the way games are produced, the types of games and the culture of the industry.
This was greatly helped by the supporting media, which also recently experienced a wave of trade unions. I hope it can also be an inspiration for other groups of workers to get organized.
DCM: “Marx in Arcade” is the book of 2019. Do you think movements like GamerGate, the ultra-right movement, want to maintain the neoliberal structures of the video game industry?
JW: The extreme right has been organizing online much more effectively than the left for some time. To some extent, popular right-wing movements were evolving in online spaces today before taking to the streets. Obviously, the far right will not be in favor of taking progressive steps to change the structure of the video game industry, and parts of this can be found on GamerGate.
However, my opinion in “Marx Arcade” is not that video games are bad or that violence should be removed from games. Instead, video games can be a means of expressing more than they currently are. Criticism is not the same as censorship.
Criticism of Marx in Arcade comes from me as a video game player, not as a person who wants to force only one way of thinking about games. It means thinking about what kind of communities we create and what impact they have on the world.
This applies to the struggle for video games – both work and leisure – which can be part of thinking about alternative ways of organizing society, as well as what we can do to relax at the end of the day.