Last month my second book was released: 'Killer Games' Versus 'We Will Fund Violence' The Perception of Digital Games and Mass Media in Germany and Australia". Where my first book was my German Master's thesis (and was about gaming behind the Iron Curtain), this one is my Ph.D.
So what is it all about?
While the assessment of digital games in Germany was framed by a high-culture critique, which regarded them as an 'illegitimate' activity, in Australia they were enjoyed by a comparatively wide demographic as a 'legitimate' pastime.
In the thesis I analysed the social history of digital gaming in both countries and related it to their socio-cultural traditions and their effects on modes of distinction. Basically, you can tell why Germany has issues with this type of media by looking into why Australia does not.
Germany, as a European Kulturnation, had a different history and different 'foundational dynamics' than Australia, a New-World society built on premises which consciously distanced themselves from their Old-World heritage.
Foundational dynamics signify the socio-cultural and historical forces which shaped a distinct national conscience and dominant identity constructions during the countries' founding phase. These constructions did not stay without an impact on the perception of different kinds of aesthetics.
Closely related to the uptake of culture was the issue of distinction, the cultural demarcation between social groups: By a conspicuous refusal of other tastes, a class tries to depict its own lifestyle as something superior. A country like Germany, whose national self-conception was closely related to groups which perpetuated an idealistic notion of Kultur and later integrated it into a rigid class system, exhibited a different form of distinction than Australia.
To put it differently: A country which based its national archetype on the myth of the bushman developed a different national conscience than a country whose ruling class defines itself very much in terms of high-cultural achievements.
The thesis demonstrates how forms of distinction, shaped by different foundational dynamics, asserted themselves regarding the perception of mass culture to the point where digital games were the latest medium to be surrounded by established patterns of criticism and enthusiasm. To make this point clear it gives a detailed history of previous introductions of mass culture and with which reactions they were met on part of Germany and Australia and their modes of distinction.
Due to its history and cultural traditions, Germany strongly opposed mass media – as can be seen in the uptake of the cinema, radio and television – whereas Australians were always comparatively enthusiastic about the latest iteration of mass art, games included. It was something that confirmed Australian identity whereas it threatened Germany's.
The thesis is the first social history of gaming in both countries.
On the other hand it also offer unique insights into the national unconscious of the two countries by means of analysing the uptake of mass media.
So if you're interested in digital games, media history, the social history of Germany and Australia, demographics and target groups in these countries or their capacity to produce internationally appealing media content, this book is for you.