Are video games the new Rock 'n' Roll?

Yes, alright, so your parents and Jack Thompson both think video games are the antichrist. But is that enough to make them the new Rock 'n' Roll? Come to think of it, not really. Their technicity, that aspect of identity expressed through the subject's relationship with technology, was born in a male dominated environment – laboratories, military contractors etc. – and influenced by the popular myths of the cyborg and the hacker. According to these influences their ideal subject is naturalized as white, male and heterosexual. Add: nerdy.Gaming culture just isn't surrounded by the same cool and subcultural credibility (yet): The glamour factor is low, boys don't want to be like designers and girls don't want to sleep with them. Fashion in games barely acts as inspiration for the real world, but is more than often the crude fantasy of a male dominated industry. Playing a video game doesn't have the same cool as going to a concert and the few games that constitute pop-cultural milestones mainly acquire their status from allusions to other media (think GTA and its radio stations). Hell, even the manufactured Brill Building pop, though almost as white and nerdy, was probably sexier. But then again our increasingly intimate relations with and through digital media and communications technologies intensify the identity/ technology interface. The technicity transported in and through game culture becomes more and more of a hegemonic force these days that tends to exclude other identities (yeah, I know, Rock 'n' Roll is misogynistic and all, but then again, broadly speaking, minorities do get an opportunity to express their view in pop culture) and perpetuates a capitalistic ethic: Follow the rules, achieve results, and you're awarded with symbolic currency which you later exchange in the game for new gadgets or access to previously denied areas. A condition that is not helped by the current political economy of the game industry with its multi-million budgets and reluctance towards innovation and subversive content (despite first tiny hints at opening up, like Nintendo's Wii or Microsoft's XNA). So: How do we bring the sexy to the games? The subversive and rebellious, the sensual and the stylish? Is it a matter of time? Do we need more indie- or minority developers? Or rather more star designers who aren't caught up in a corporate web? Can this work at all without a radical change in the political economy of the game industry?

by Schredd