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Title:The sociocultural context of the video game experience
Author(s):Garner, Timothy Lee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Denzin, Norman K.
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Sociology, General
Abstract:This dissertation explores the video game experience through extensive ethnographic research conducted in video arcades. The evolution of coin-operated video games is also examined and the games themselves are analyzed as cultural texts which embody both traditional and emerging cultural themes. The major thrust of the dissertation involves the question of whether or not video games represent a significant cultural force. It is concluded that the video game is both a manifestation of the growing "computer culture" as well as an important source of socialization into modern computer technology. The video game is interpreted as a new genre of game which represents a significant cultural form that has been transformed within the context of the so-called computer revolution. The social world of the video arcade thereby provides us with a symbolic community capable of illustrating the potential impact of modern computer technology upon the individual and the social matrix of modern life. Several key themes emerge through the interpretive analysis of the video game experience including: (1) video games represent concrete and tangible symbols of modern life through the technology which they embody while at the same time reproducing and reinforcing long-standing cultural themes such as male dominance and individual superiority. (2) The videogaming experience is a conduit through which one can learn to conceive of self as a quantifiable entity. Our ability to perceive and understand reality is becoming increasingly contingent upon our ability to process quantified information, thus the video game experience provides highly relevant socialization with respect to this growing cultural theme. (3) The social world of the video arcade serves as a cultural arena that is a creation and reflection of both its most significant objects (i.e. video games and their attendant computer technology) and the wider social world of youth and adolescence. This makes the social world of the video arcade a vivid metaphor for our time as the technology which is shaping our future is established within the cultural milieu of the segment of our population representative of that same future.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Garner, Timothy Lee
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210810
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210810

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