About Cultural Monopolies…

Just like in the beginnings of any major art form related to the advances of technology, monopolistic companies are pulling the strings of the game industry. And these monopolies often go for the money rather than the artistic expression, you know, it’s a natural thing for big fishes.

 

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Lets go back in history when Guttenberg’s invention started changing mankind’s vision of the world. In those days, the owners of the big Theater companies of Europe put pressure on their drama writers so they would not give their manuscripts to printers. They wanted to keep their writings being made by hand so no other Theatre house could interpret those plays. Sounds familiar, right? MP3 anyone?

Same thing with movies. The studio system of the 1920’s enabled the 5 biggest hollywood companies to have control of the 76% of available movie theatres in all america. If you wanted to make an independent movie, you wouldn’t get any big exhibition possibilities. These went on going until in 1948, the Supreme Court decided that no studio should own a movie theatre because that went against freedom of speech, and against movies as a cultural expression.

Makes you wonder.. How only 3 companies in the whole world own the entire console market for videogames. Fortunately there seems to be an opening space for indie games within consoles… but still, as long as videogames are not seen as culture, we might need to start worrying on who’s deciding what goes and what doesn’t.

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2 Responses

  1. Have you ever read any of Antonio Gramsci? If not, I think you’d be very interested in his ideas about hegemony, the state, civil society, culture, and the ‘war of position’. He was an Italian Marxist in the 1920s/30s whose concern was revolution, but I find his thoughts intriguing and more broadly applicable.

    Also, I think that video games are clearly material culture, but are not considered ‘culture’ (meaning ‘high culture’/’art’) in the common sense of the term. There’s an article by a sociologist on how film became ‘high culture’ (art) that I like to think about when I think about why video games haven’t reached that level yet, which you can find here: http://www.jstor.org/view/00031224/sp030001/03x0006f/0?currentResult=00031224%2bsp030001%2b03x0006f%2b0%2cFFFFFF

    If you don’t have access to JSTOR, you can email me and I’ll send you a PDF.

  2. Something went wrong with the above link, so I’ll try again with HTML… you can find the article here. I think it’s very worthwhile to read it.

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