Episode 6: Gaming Authority

Thiago Falcão on exploitation and far-right politics in the games industry

Episode references and notes:

Magic the Gathering, card game, 1993

Ergin Bulut, A Precarious Game, Cornell Press, 2020

Aaron Trammell, Repairing Play, MIT Press, 2023

Max Haiven: Hello and welcome to “The Exploits of Play.” This is a podcast about the strange and unexpected roles of games and play in our stage of capitalism that just keeps getting weirder. My name is Max Haiven and I am the Canada Research Chair in the Radical Imagination.

Halle Frost: And I’m Halle Frost from the platform Weird Economies. We’re presenting this podcast. Today our guest is Thaigo Falcão, who is an associate professor and the head of the Department of Digital Media at the University of Paraba.

He is the current president of the Brazilian chapter of the Digital Games Research Association, or DIGRA, which he helped found in 2021. He researches the relationships between entertainment, video games, and neoliberal capitalism with a broad focus on issues related to work, politics, and financialization. Max, could you add some context for our conversation today? 

Max Haiven: Yeah, absolutely. I was really glad that we got a chance to talk to Thiago for a number of reasons. One of them is, you know, Thiago’s research focuses on the condition of workers within the game industry. And as listeners to this podcast probably know from our previous episodes and from, you know, newspapers and other media sources, the video games industry has quickly emerged as a massive entertainment industry with millions of employees around the world, but also one that has globalized, where, you know, large, what are called sort of like triple A level game companies, these are like the huge companies that produce like really big blockbuster games.

These companies have workforces spanning multiple continents. They search the world for human capital. They’re always looking for populations that they can, you know, buy skills for cheap.

And so that’s meant that especially over the last decade, there’s been a huge boom in the game industry in countries in the global South, like Brazil, that Thiago will be speaking about, leading to all sorts of new conflicts and possibilities, new sort of platforms and sort of terrains of struggle over labor conditions. And this is complicated, of course, by the fact that most people enter the games industry, not just because it’s a job and you can be, you know, perhaps hopefully well paid for the work, but actually because most people working in that industry are also very dedicated fans of that industry. You know, they grow up playing games and it’s their dream to make games when they grow up.

I think for a lot of young people, especially, but not exclusively a lot of young men, this is like the sort of number one dream that many people have. But of course, as with any of these industries that are built on dreams from the music industry to the sports industry, dreams, it turns out, are very easy for new forms of capitalism to exploit. And the games industry has become a laboratory, as many scholars and activists point out, for new forms of the exploitation of labor, whether that’s kind of expecting employees to work longer, harder, faster, whether it’s expecting them to pour their whole heart and soul into the company, lots of different forms of unpaid overtime.

Also, the kind of less direct forms of exploitation of independent game designers who are then forced to offer their products on exploitative or extractive platforms. And the list goes on. So it’s really quite interesting to talk to scholars like Tiago about the new forms of labor exploitation and the new forms of labor struggle in the games industry.

It’s also, I think, really interesting to talk to him a little bit about the intersection of those forms of exploitation and struggle with changing norms around masculinity. In this interview, we talk a little bit about how far-right actors, both in Brazil and around the world, have been able to conscript predominantly, but not exclusively, young men to far-right projects through a certain mythology that gaming is under attack from a kind of woke feminist conspiracy. Of course, the most famous example of this, which we’ve spoken about in other episodes, is the Gamergate saga from about 10 years ago now.

But there are many others as well. And Thiago speaks a little bit about how that plays out in Brazil, which is a country that, of course, was under a fascist or at least a far-right authoritarian dictatorship for a good portion of the 20th century and has recently emerged from under the shadow of a very authoritarian far-right political leader, Jair Bolsonaro, who many people associate with those dark days of the 20th century when he was a military officer. And Tiago has been following how games and masculinity and certain kinds of middle-class subjectivity have all been mobilized or exploited by far-right political actors in Brazil and elsewhere.

So it’s a very important part of this interview as well. I think it’s really wonderful in this podcast to talk to Thiago about what politics and economics of games and play appear from one vantage point in the global South. Max Haiven: So I’d love to begin this interview by asking you what we ask all of our guests, which is to begin with a story from childhood or adolescence about playing a game that changed your understanding of the world.

Thaigo Falcão: First of all, thank you so much for the invitation. I’m very happy to be talking to you guys. But that’s actually a good question, because it’s a game that only appeared in my life as I was heading on to the 20s.

So it took a while to appear in my life. But not only a game, but a whole set of games. Those were card games, collectible, tradable card games.

I played video games through my childhood and through the teenage years. And I can say many of them struck a chord regarding the organization of the world, the role society had to play. When I reached 16, 17 years old, me and my friends, we started playing a lot of card games.

So I was introduced to “Magic”, “Magic the Gathering”, which is this, well, I still play it and I still find it fantastic, but it’s more and more, I don’t know, an evil game run by an evil company or something like that. So we started playing and that’s when I could finally understand that we all came from very different backgrounds, right? Because while we were playing video games, I don’t know, fighting games or adventures or role playing games, we played a lot of role playing games back in the day. While we were playing these sorts of games, everyone was sort of equal.

But when you touch up the whole trading card games conundrum, it actually. Highlights the social background of people who are playing, so we quickly understood who had resources to invest in the game, to buy more expensive cards, to prepare themselves for tournaments. And that was when I first realized, well, maybe this game is not for me.

I can’t actually, I don’t know, sustain playing this game. And I stepped back and stopped playing “Magic” for like, I don’t know, maybe 10 to 12 years until I had a job and a well-paid job and I could finally get into it properly. That’s not only my personal player experience, but also one of the things I have been seeing in research.

If you’re in Brazil, you can never go into “Magic” properly. It’s very difficult and it’s a very financialized world and it punishes people dearly for not having money. And since we are in South America and we are in the global South, money is not something you come across easily.

Max Haiven: Fascinating. I can’t resist sharing the anecdote that, yeah, I mean, I also remember playing Magic the Gathering as a child or as a young teenager. And likewise, being very surprised at how quickly those who had money could level themselves up in the game.

And then years later, I ended up writing some of the first academic research I did on my son’s group of friends who were playing with Pokemon cards and how they struggled with similar challenges. Because, of course, most of us parents were not so keen on spending endless money giving a company, Nintendo, and their fellow game producers so much money for these kind of completely disposable cards. And then the kids would create their own weird parallel economies and very speculative economies based on it.

Yeah, it’s so fascinating how those cards, especially “Magic the Gathering”, I guess probably almost 30 years ago now, yeah, really changed the way people play in a funny way and did, as you point out, bring a whole new level of consumerism and financialization to it. 

Thaigo Falcão: Yeah, yeah, definitely. There’s all sorts of examples.

Well, first of all, I don’t know if you’re trying to move into one of the competitive formats and have a competitive deck of cards, you need to spend at least minimum wage in Brazil. So that’s how it compares. So a fair deck, and it’s not even the most expensive one, a fair deck costs what many of the Brazilian workers get in a month.

So, yeah, it’s difficult. And we have these scholars in Brazil who call it gambiarras, which is a word used for trying to do something in a less than ideal way so you can get something from it. So there’s this terrific podcast, one of the formats of Magic in which the host interviews one of our pro players, one of the grinders, and he’s a social sciences high school teacher and high school teachers, they don’t make a lot of money in Brazil.

So he moonlights as a “Magic the Gathering” player. So he devised this fantastic way of playing the metagame to sell cards both digitally and physically to double, sometimes triple his income. So, yeah, it’s an amazing world.

Max Haiven: It is incredible. I hope we get to return to that a little bit later in the interview, because I think that question of how people, yeah, as you point out, play the game and then also play the metagame of how the game operates within the capitalist economy is just so, so fascinating, sometimes more fascinating than the game itself. Before we come back to that a little bit later, I wanted to start by asking you a little bit if you could give us a bit of a glimpse into the games industry.

A lot of our listeners will be familiar with the video game industry and how it works. I think a lot of our listeners will probably have a very incomplete view in the sense that I think many people imagine that, you know, games are made by very small groups of very passionate people or people who have a very high level of skill who then get paid quite a bit. And in fact, I think that once you pull back the curtain, you begin to see that it’s a very exploitative industry.

It’s a very globalized industry. It’s an industry with very particular forms of exploitation. Can you tell us a bit about that in general, what you’re observing and what trends you’ve seen?

Thaigo Falcão: The industry, it seems to feed off this passion, this love people have for video games. And I remember when I played video games when I was a child, I had this friend and we actually, well, I almost majored in computer science. He actually did. And he went to work in Montreal.

He worked all works. I don’t I don’t really know for Ubisoft for a while developing Assassin’s Creed and all of the AAA games. And the love for the game was for the games, for the industry, for the idea of creating video games was his propellant.

It was always his main reason to endure the abuse of the industry, which is a very common sense thing to say. But when you go into industry and I try to tell this to my students, working on an independent level is very different from working in the industry. And I know it might sound straightforward to some of you guys, some of the people who are listening to this, but it’s it’s kind of not when you’re talking from this South American, Brazilian perspective, because we are teaching things, we are developing this educational process and trying to, I don’t know, build up these professions.

But we don’t have an industry to actually accommodate them. I remember a work by a Canadian scholar, Alison Harvey, in which she was discussing this pipeline from the university to the actual industry. And there’s no such thing as this pipeline in Brazil.

So it’s very difficult to to actually try and compare, relate to the international spectrum. So the industry is comprised of these huge companies and these huge companies. They are very impersonal.

Most of the time they foster a terrible culture because they are accounts of abuse and racism. And this culture that’s being developed inside the industry is responsible for what we have been seeing in game culture for about, I don’t know, two decades, maybe, which is a very toxic behavior from players all around. And again, I know it might sound like general generalistic, but I mean, I’ve been doing research in these communities for the best of 15 years and I’ve seen nothing that’s really different from this toxic behavior.

Of course, of course, there are all kinds of people, all kinds of people playing video games and and that there’s a struggle for diversity. Of course, there is there are these things. But it’s not really universal, if you know what I mean, it’s not really in all the places and many of the communities I follow and I follow them.

Very closely, and they are, I mean, sometimes they really trigger me. They just embrace this masculine, racist, many times fascist aspects of being. And it’s kind of disturbing.

Max Haiven: Can you give us an example of the way that like what I’m hearing from what you’re saying is that the industry is sort of like the way the industry operates is reinforcing this hyper-masculine, sexist, racist, fascist mood or approach in many people. Can you give us an example of where you’ve observed that? 

Thaigo Falcão: I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. There’s this book by Ergin Bulut. He has this fantastic book, which he developed an ethnography in one of these major studios. And it’s called A Precarious Game. And he has it tries to understand how this love of video games prepare people to be abused.

And there’s this fantastic anecdote, which is very common if you’re into game studs, which is the EA spouse anecdote in which you have this email that denounces how one of the programmers that works for EA, he has his dream job, but he has lost everything else. He has lost touch with his family. He has lost holidays, sleep and all of the types of things that actually you work for.

What’s really good about this anecdote is the fact that the video games industry kind of feeds off this love people have for video games. And it helps people to endure abuse much more easily. And most of what I’ve seen in my research regarding these relationships is from the point of view of the consumer.

Right. So it isn’t really, again, related to how the industry operates, but more like the industry. I mean, in the phases of development or in the industrial culture developed in and engendered and fostered inside of these major companies, but more like how the consumers, how the players, they take these products and they, well, develop this passion and almost, well, they are very loyal to these studios.

They are religiously loyal to these studios. So there’s an axiomatic position of how, in this case, how capitalism or how neoliberalism or how ultra liberalism is going to ultimately save the souls of these people. So this is what I have been seeing in many of the data we’ve collected throughout the last years, throughout the decade.

There’s actually a good example of that, which is related to how back in 2020, I think, maybe 2019, Brazil has been struggling with regulating video games for the best of the last decade. Right. So we have these, I mean, many bills that Congress tried to rule over and tried to discuss and that were just swallowed by the lobby in the House.

And there’s this particular bill which tried to regulate esports in Brazil. And it was received by the consumers, by the players, by the, I mean, the esports community with virulence because they understood that the government was trying to, I don’t know, bureaucratize or in their words, they were trying to steal money from the industry or something like that. And the reason why I’m telling you this is because from the research and from the data collections we’ve done in this particular problem, this particular question, one of the main actors behind this movement that we saw through social media were, well, of course, lobbyists that were in the Congress in the time, but also the market specialists in the companies.

So they were trying all of the time to, it’s like they were trying to provoke a reaction in the communities, in the esports communities, to make these communities fight off the bills and the regulations. And many of the data we’ve collected, lots of samples of the data we collected, is stated people that were, for example, denouncing the government. At the same time, they were praising how the market would solve itself, would regulate itself and how the government wasn’t really needed.

So we didn’t need that regulation. So there’s a pipeline that comes from industry to actually producing a type of reaction in the consumers. And that’s very visible when you dive into these networks.

Max Haiven: I mean, this reminds me of some of the discourse around, for instance, the National Rifle Association of the United States or all manner of other corporations or industries that develop this very dedicated following and then are able to wield their following against governments that try and regulate them very, very, very successfully. It, again, seems to dovetail with where I want to ask you here, which is like in the Brazilian context, the relationship between the video game fan communities and the video game industry and the far right, which, you know, was in power until less than a year ago in Brazil under Bolsonaro. You know, Brazil also being a country that is very much haunted still by the ghosts and the terrors of the dictatorships of the latter part of the 20th century.

I’m really curious from your work about how games and video games are part of the machinery to recruit a new generation of younger people to these far right politics. I think maybe some of our listeners will be a bit more familiar with, for instance, how in the United States, a figure like Steve Bannon looked at the Gamergate spectacle and horror show that happened and sort of had this, he says, had this kind of realization that the future of politics was with the gamers and also with the kind of cruel play that the gamers brought to that spectacle. But I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about what’s been happening in Brazil.

Thaigo Falcão: That’s a fantastic question. Where do I begin? I’ve been working, I don’t know, maybe from 2017, something like that, 18. We’ve been looking collectively, my research group, I mean, to these relationships between video games and politics in a broader sense. And then by 2018, things like sped up because of Bolsonaro’s election. But we could already see how the right, how the far right in Brazil was latching onto the video game culture in Brazil. So it’s not something that’s quite easy to, I don’t know, mathematically prove, but it’s also something that’s very visible, very visible.

So back in the day, I was doing research on “Magic the Gathering” communities. And this is 2015, probably. And that’s when the whole machinery of fake news started spreading through instant messengers in Brazil. So our most, you have all sorts of disinformation campaigns from the time. But maybe our most famous fake news from the time was an ideological one, was that Nazism was a left wing movement. So that spread through Brazil like fire. It was very virulent and insidious. And you had these huge arguments inside the game communities about that. People are still fascinated with the war and it baffles me.

We have this history of military dictatorships. Well, most of you put it correctly, most of the 20th century, but more specifically from 1964 to 1985. So it’s not even that in the past. And we were ruled by a military government and it was a dreadful one with, well, all sorts of things a military government is entitled to. Most of the people in Brazil, they just grow up and they go through an educational process allegedly devoid of ideology. So you learn about, for example, the special dates, the proclamation of the republic or the independence day.

You learn about this, but you don’t learn the context in which this actually happened. So that creates a very thin, a very fragile notion of history, which is very, very common to neoliberalism as a cultural process, all of the erasing of history narrative. So most of the population in Brazil, and I don’t mean to be patronizing something like that, but most of the population in Brazil, they are not really aware of how, for example, the dictatorship actually happened. And this is a fact. So when, and finally, let me circle back to it. But when you talk to people about these years of dictatorship, they are usually dazzled by how orderly things seem to be. So if I talk to my father, for example, and my grandfather was a military officer, I grew up on a very, I don’t know. I grew up in a very, I don’t know, If I say it’s a military city, it would look like an enclave.

There’s a military culture embedded into how people think. It’s very Christian, very military. So if I talk to my father, he actually he calls the movement a revolution, not a coup, which was, so there’s, there’s this narrative. Let me go back to video games and games as a whole.

A lot. So one of my, one of the things I’ve been working on and trying to, well, develop my research around is the fact that the generation that started playing video games is well, it comes from two particular backgrounds. First of all it’s upper class, middle upper middle class to upper class background, socially speaking, because video games are very expensive in Brazil.

So, either you have money to buy, for example, a PlayStation or. You have to make do with cheap cell phones. So there’s a, there’s a whole different scene there, but video game culture was always this, this upper middle to upper class. And these people, they were always fascinated with the right in Brazil, with these, this promise and this narrative of.

development and order and well, everything seemed to work. And of course, if you add up the specter of communism to the, to this equation. So you have At the same time, a very liberal in, in the sense of neoliberal position, but a very anti leftist position from this, from this from this community. So my point here is Video game culture in Brazil, it’s, it spawns from, from this cultural pool riddled with Christianity, conservatism and militarism.

It’s not even only the video game culture, but, but the whole ludic or playful culture. It develops, it grows in Brazil, for example, but we have this whole community of airsoft players. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but it’s people who act like military personnel.

They dress like military personnel, they carry these air pumped guns. all around and they boast knowing about the culture and such and and they do it of course in a playful way on a ludic way but that actually for me shows Where the discourse and the culture and the trends are coming from. Which reminds me of Aaron Trammell’s book. It’s called Repairing Play in which I think there’s a fantastic argument there that is, well, you game scholars, you have to stop thinking about play.

Is this bright and bright and beautiful and developing and I mean positive thing and you have to, to understand play can be ugly dark. And that pretty much applies to how I understand this, this ludic culture, this playful culture, this game culture that comes and stems from Brazil. I want to ask you in a moment to talk a little bit about if there are any forms of.

Liberatory play or anti-fascist play and games in a second. But before we go there, I just wanna touch on one other issue, which is around the gamification of work more generally. So some of our listeners might have read stories about, for instance, the way that Uber drivers you know, and, and other platform workers, delivery drivers are kind of hooked into gamified platforms in order to.

Get them to work harder, longer, faster, more enthusiastically. There’s been discussions of Amazon at their warehouses using gamified interfaces to, again, not only encourage workers to work harder, faster, longer, but also to surveil them. And I think a lot of this is also going on under the banner of FinTech and financial technology.

And a huge sort of gold rush from the Silicon Valley types to target countries in the global South, like Brazil, where there’s a lot of people who don’t have formal bank accounts. The idea here being, you know, if only everyone can use an app for banking, then capitalism will finally work and, you know, everyone will get to enter the market as a true competitor and you know, we’re going to solve the problems of global poverty.

What have you observed in this whole gamification mess from, in Brazil, especially? Let’s say the global South, the countries of the global South and, and these lack of education or formal education or, or, of ideological education, it actually produces a type of subject that’s very prone to these techniques of neoliberalism.

What I mean to say about that is. It always amazes me how we are in Brazil susceptible to these narratives, to these technologies. Case in point, well, the whole gamification, Uber, and well, we have, we have a thing called Uber. That’s actually worse than Uber. In Brazil it’s called iFood. I don’t know if that’s also an international thing.

So, we have iFood, which is a delivery platform, like platform. So you can order food and shop for groceries and stuff like that. Medicine from pharmacies and so on, but it’s actually much worse than Uber because of the, well, because of how they exploit the workers that are not proper workers, but also how they make themselves scarce.

If you need to complain or talk to them or something like that. So it’s. Well, I love Mark Fisher’s argument that the upper echelons of capitalism are simply untouchable. And that’s, that’s something of course that’s seen in Brazil, but if you talk to Uber drivers, if you talk to iPhone delivery people, most of them, they are.

under the impression they are doing the right thing with their lives because they have no bosses and they, well, it’s, it’s, it’s very basic, right? It’s very, it’s, it’s the straightforward way we scholars think about these, these processes. They are really there. So I had many arguments about these things with Uber drivers.

And they, that’s it, they are very they are very certain that they are doing the right thing with their lives. Meanwhile, it’s the same problem, it’s just a different side of the coin, I think. But when you mention the, the financialization of the, of these processes and, and how we can get, quote, capitalism to work or to finally work, unquote it reminds me that, for example, we are going through in Brazil right now, an open finance process.

in which, well, first of all, there’s no money in the streets anymore because under Bolsonaro, they sanctioned a type of bank operation that’s called PIX. And what PIX actually does is it makes it easy for you to use your cell phone to pay for small things and transfer small amounts from a bank account to another bank account, even to another bank.

So it tries to integrate the whole system which actually, actually produced. A phenomenon that extracted currency from the hands of the poor people and concentrated this currency. In small bank accounts. And of course the process goes on. So this was the first first iteration of the process.

And now the president of the central bank is preaching the idea that we need a single application which will operate all of your bank accounts, so you are not allowed to have bank accounts that are independent or there are blind. About all the bank accounts you might have. So the idea is to absolutely transform the field into a transparent field.

And again most of the people have no knowledge about these things we are discussing. Again, I’m, I’m not talking about. Because stereotypically people know that in Brazil we have homeless people and we have baggers in the streets. And stereotypically, and that’s true, that’s pretty much true. But I’m not talking about these people, these, these people in, in bad situations.

I’m talking about my students that come from up. middle class backgrounds that had a beautiful formal education and that when they get to the university, when they get to the bachelor course or the major or the minor or something like that They have no knowledge of what’s happening at all with the economic system in Brazil.

We’ve talked a lot in this conversation, but a couple of themes keep on coming up. And one of them is the general, generally speaking, right wing bias of a lot of video game culture in Brazil right now. And also the way that this right wing bias thrives in a context where, you know, basic education is often lacking.

And also in a country that’s really haunted by these long histories of dictatorship. As well as, you know, global, global exploitation, colonialism, and all the rest. But I guess, I wonder, do you see any bright spots for games in Brazil? These days, any game designers who are somehow trying to address these topics or use games to send other kinds of messages and cultivate other kinds of politics.

This is really interesting because even though game culture in Brazil is very aligned with ultra liberalism or the far right or even the right, the moderate right. When you try to find independence. game designers in Brazil, they are often aligned with minorities. So it’s a very diverse scene with well, black people, trans people, queer people as a whole.

So it’s, it’s very, it’s very diverse. So that’s very interesting. And there are lots of these people that are working on these strategies. On, on trying to develop games that can actually change how the society understands video games and understands itself. Not only video games as a whole, but also itself.

So, yeah, definitely. There are lots of people working. On those fronts, but it’s not, it’s not really easy, right? And it’s not really easy. Well, first of all, I mean, it all comes down to us being a global South, a country in the global South. It all comes down to it. So we have this, this tradition of imperialism.

So it’s. It’s much easier to, for example, buy a board game. Well, we don’t, we practically don’t have video games and I could be burned for saying that. But what I mean to say is we don’t have an industry that. Develops AAA games, it’s, it’s, it simply doesn’t exist. Many of the times, and we have, we have great workers that work for studios abroad.

It’s very common, but they outsource things. So there’s, yeah, there isn’t a culture of development. Let’s say this production doesn’t really reach market level. It always stays within the capsule, I don’t know, of the underground, I would say. Take a look at our film industry in Brazil.

Film industry took the, the best of a century to be developed and it was only developed and you, you only see the good things you see nowadays because the government like it Tons of money in this industry and that’s something, something I would really say the government should do with games industry as a whole also because, well, it’s, it’s a side, it’s an aspect, it’s a representation of culture as important as films are.

Circling back to the, to show these productions, they stay underground. So they’re not really accessible. They don’t have the market treatment. So it’s really difficult to, for example, to buy a Brazilian game, there are a few independent publishers and sometimes it does work.

Sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t and they have like a tiny printing and it’s very limited and it’s very expensive. So there are all sorts of problems. Your question actually boils down for me. Again, to the role of the government, because, well, frankly, when you think about Brazil, well, see our, our whole educational system is public.

Of course there are private schools, but if you think universities, for example, the best ones are public. There’s, there’s, It’s, it’s a country that still has this, this state backbone that’s very relevant, very important, and that’s preoccupied with culture as well as with infrastructure, of course. I’ve been developing this project for the last two months with one of the government secretaries.

In Brasilia, and one of the, one of the people that are liaisoning with me she told me the government, the Workers Party government at this moment is very split. The higher echelons of the government, they are very conservative. They are, of course. Leftist people that have this I don’t know, this idea of working alongside people and visiting places etc.

But they are very conservative when it comes to technology and the people who actually understand the role of technology, they are in the lower echelons of the government and they have no say in anything. So there’s a gap there. that should be somehow bridged so we could actually make this culture flourish.

I don’t see it happening in the near future. I hope it happens, but I don’t see it. And, and that’s very worrying for me because While we experience this problem in, in the government, there’s this gap, this lack of understanding between the, the conservativeness of these people and how things are being, so to say, so to speak, played in the street the right, it, it takes video games and technology as.

I could say it in Portuguese, which is like, I mean, it’s theirs and they are very comfortable with it. So I think there’s a problem of vision there and that these designers and these independent developers need to be helped by the government. But I don’t, I don’t really know where that’s going.

That’s a really fascinating place to end because I think many of our listeners. We’ll have only ever thought about the video game industry as something that’s led by capital, you know, that, that, you know, it’s compared to many other forms of arts and cultural and literary and you know, human expression that we understand need to be supported by collective wealth somehow in order to be able to fulfill its critical function in society.

Very few people think about that. in terms of video games. But I think that’s a really interesting thing for us to think about, especially given how, what a huge percentage of the population is growing up on video games, you know, with that video game is their primary teacher in many ways, going back to how we began this conversation and just thinking about, you know, are we going to leave that territory purely up to the markets?

And the forces that support the market tend to be on the right, whether it’s the neoliberal extreme right or the, you know, fish stick extreme right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. When I’m having these meetings with these people in the government, What I, what I try to convey to them is game culture is there, you can’t deny it, you can turn your back to it, you need to embrace it, and you need to embrace it as a part of your political strategies and it’s, it’s not simply and I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but it’s not simply, well, let’s, let’s I don’t know.

Promote a tournament. No, it’s not there. You need to think about this as part of our culture. I’m not even talking about nationalism, but to be able to actually penetrate this bubble. Because right now, it’s new, it’s not only neoliberal, but Very much ultra liberal bubble that has to be popped somehow.

Halle Frost: Weird Economies is sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts. You can listen to the whole podcast as well as view the transcript at