Critical perspectives on the games industry: constructs and collusion

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    Douglas Coupland’s satirical novel Microserfs (1996) explores the lives of a group of technology geeks who work as low-level programmers and testers at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond near Seattle in the mid-1990s. Through Daniel’s blog style diary entries their motivations, hopes and dreams are revealed as they are gradually tempted to relocate to Silicon Valley in California by the lure of being in at the start of a new and exciting games software project. Coupland draws upon months of observational research in both of the novel’s dramatic locations to capture the optimistic zeitgeist of the time in the American software industry, and anticipates the technology boom and bubble of the late 1990s. The novel is laced with ironic knowingness which reveals much about the difference between the projected self-image of the software industry, the realities of the business and the everyday lives of its workforce. The self-image of the software developers is that they are creative cultural entrepreneurs working in a cooperative, casual, flexible and open campus-style white space environment, where motivations to work long hours are derived less from financial reward than from artistic, technical and personal developmental compensations. In sociological terms, the developers are ideal typical members of Florida’s creative class who share a common identity through adherence to a creative ethos which is inseparable from their economic function, and determines similar social, cultural and leisure choices (Florida, 2004).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationChanging the rules of the game
    Subtitle of host publicationeconomic, management and emerging issues in the computer games industry
    EditorsSabine Hotho, Neil McGregor
    Place of PublicationBasingstoke
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Electronic)9781137318411
    ISBN (Print)9780230303539, 9781349338191
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2013


    • Computer game
    • Game development
    • Critical perspective
    • Creative industry
    • Digital game


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