Global Players and Makers Book

This book is still in development and in search of a publisher, with two chapters remaining to complete. I plan to selectively release some of the chapters on this blog.

Global Players and Makers is about players, game developers, and game artists whose work is of global reach and origin, underscoring the games of those who have overcome infrastructural challenges and varied digital divides in the global South. Players and media artists develop and play digital games in cities like Sao Paolo or Jakarta. Game piracy is also recontextualized as a game media literacy service for those living in less affluent regions of the global South, among other ludic literacy tactics. For instance, local players reconfigure Pokemon Go mapping data in order to play the augmented reality mobile phone game in cities like Ho Chi Min, a city that has relatively less of the recreational park zones appearing on Google Maps that are optimal for generating nests of collectible Pocket Monsters.

Game designers in Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia design casual games whose mythological and cultural settings, as well as puzzle play mechanics, are locally influenced. Professional localizers in Brazil and many other countries convert games originating in the global North, from Japan, South Korea, and the United States, into more palatable entertainment for new demographics of customers in Latin America and Southeast Asia, including women and girls. Freemium games that are initially cost-free, replete with sophisticated analytical data analysis tools, have become the prime model of such game monetization for mobile and other games across the global South.

At times, rather than positive affirmation, my critical analysis of these games questions whether the emerging global financial relations of the global game industry, rather than being empowering of Southern players, replicate exploitative post-colonial economic transactions between North and South. A new set of young male business graduates from Northern institutions like Harvard Business School are poised to exploit global markets. Developers in both the North and the South also apply their design skills to greater global causes, designing games to encourage solutions for water scarcity in Africa or to raise funds for endangered Orangutans in Indonesia. I take a critical, evaluative and at times post-colonial approach to such endeavours and practices, focusing on under-examined game media usage practices and game literacy patterns in the global South from recent decades.

New media theory and criticism, post colonial theory theory, digital ethnography, gender studies and feminism are some of the theoretical optics and methodologies brought to bear on the games and practices discussed throughout this investigation.