Archive for publications, 2020

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[Commlist] new book: A Precarious Game: The Illusion of Dream Jobs in the Video Game Industry

Mon Mar 09 21:24:12 GMT 2020

I am happy to announce the publication of my book, which might be a useful resource for scholars studying the political economy and cultural politics of video games, critical media industry studies, digital labor, gender studies, and cultural theory. The price is reduced 30% if you use the code below.

*/A Precarious Game: /**/The Illusion of Dream Jobs in the Video Game Industry/*

By Ergin Bulut

Available from

Cornell University Press:

*30% discount with code: 09FLYER*


*About the book*

/A Precarious Game/ is an ethnographic examination of video game production. The developers that Ergin Bulut researched for almost three years in a medium-sized studio in the U.S. loved making video games that millions play. Only some, however, can enjoy this dream job, which can be precarious and alienating for many others. That is, the passion of a predominantly white-male labor force relies on material inequalities involving the sacrificial labor of their families, unacknowledged work of precarious testers, and thousands of racialized and gendered workers in the Global South.

/A Precarious Game/ explores the politics of doing what one loves. In the context of work, passion and love imply freedom, participation, and choice, but in fact they accelerate self-exploitation and can impose emotional toxicity on other workers by forcing them to work endless hours. Bulut argues that such ludic discourses in the game industry disguise the racialized and gendered inequalities on which a profitable transnational industry thrives.

Within capitalism, work is not just an economic matter, and the political nature of employment and love can still be undemocratic even when based on mutual consent. As Bulut demonstrates, rather than considering work simply as a matter of economics based on trade-offs in the workplace, we should consider the question of work and love as one of democracy rooted in politics.


Introduction: For Whom the Love Works in Video Game Production

1.The Unequal Ludopolitical Regime of Game Production: Who Can Play, Who Has to Work?

2.The End of the Garage Studio as a Technomasculine Space: Financial Security, Streamlined Creativity, and Signs of Friction

3.Gaming the City: How a Game Studio Revitalized a Downtown Space in the Silicon Praire

4.The Production of Communicative Developers in the Affective Game Studio

5.Reproducing Technomasculinity: Spouses’ Classed Femininities and Domestic Labor

6.Game Testers as Precarious Second-Class Citizens: Degradation of Fun, Instrumentalization of Play

7.Production Error: Layoffs Hit the Core Creatives

Conclusion: Reimagining Labor and Love in and beyond Game Production

Pages: 222


*Early praise for /A Precarious Game/*


"I know of no other work that chronicles the life cycle and death of a creative industry, and in doing so, potentially tempers the rhetoric celebrating the entrepreneur because it shows that failure is endemic to trying new things."

*Vicki Mayer, Tulane University, author of/ Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans/*


"Since the crash of 2008, the power relations that structure digital capitalism have been further extended and systematized.  In this provocative, wide-ranging study, Bulut details how social inequalities and exploitative labor practices carry forward in today's digital workshops."

*Dan Schiller, Author of /Digital Depression: Information Technology and Economic Crisis/*


"/A Precarious Game/ is an original work that deftly combines a political economy critique of the inequities and hidden violence of the digital economy with critical Feminist analysis of labor and social reproduction."

*Paula Chakravartty, New York University, author of /Media Policy and Globalization/*

*About the author*

*Ergin Bulut*

Faculty Fellow at Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Media and Visual Arts Department at KoçUniversity, Istanbul.

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