For a course on Organizational Communication I took last semester, I engaged with the organizational structure of GameStop, the primary physical game sales organization in the United States. For this paper, I looked at both horizontal and vertical integration on their part, in terms of press ownership (in line with some gamergate arguments, I know), flash distribution ownership (on the site Kongregate.com, one of the two most prominent flash sites online), and Facebook page posts. I was interested in how game culture forms in these online sites, how that is tied to game culture and legitimization of exclusion in game spaces, and how economics plays into the establishment of control in the very Deleuzian-sense covered in the readings for this week.
Something I found, and something that I think is tied intimately to control in gaming culture, was a lack of editing on the Facebook posts. Moderation was lacking in both senses of the word. One image, which I can no longer find, was buried in a primary post by GameStop. It was a comic that showed a man killing a woman’s child, then taking her as a prize, as if he’d finished a “quest.” Now, this was a common type of posting, but I was more interested in the fact that it was not only not removed, but it was a prominent post, with likes and comments attached.
If control is about managing modulation based on the ability to predict it, then in this case, the lack of censorship by GameStop indicates both an ability to predict and a sense that this kind of posting is okay. When a major organization is able to control what is okay or not in a culture, even with this implicit acceptance of violence against women, the result has to be negative. This is despite the fact that I was not surprised, nor would I think anyone reading this would be surprised by that vein of conversation. We can see what will happen in these conversations before they start.
So what happens when these communities break from what is expected, when people deliver death threats to individuals like Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn? At this point, I would say such this are totally expected, but there was a point where they were not. The control structures we are discussing have to include the capacity to wrap up unintended consequences and treat them as intended, to recapture outbursts that, however negative, are by their nature trying to defy expectations.
So how do we actually do something productive? Do we break completely from the illusory online/offline dualist construction, such as in the case of the Arab Spring? If so, can we maintain the momentum, or will it lag and eventually be recaptured again? How do we promote these Deleuzian “satori moments,” the lines of flight that let us actually do something?