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Marx at the Arcade
Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle

Praise for Working the Phones:

“A sharp reminder of the difficulties faced by call-center workers.” —The Financial Times

“Jamie Woodcock shows us what call-centers can tell us about bleakness and resistance in the modern workplace.” —VICE

“Jamie Woodcock’s brilliant insider account of life in a British call-center reveals the dirty realities of digital capitalism . . . a book that is sure to become a classic.” —Peter Fleming, author of The Mythology of Work

“Woodcock knows not only his theory but his subject inside out. There’s casualization, cruelty, and regimentation, but also subversion, and his focus on employee resistance offers a flicker of hope.” —Times Higher Education

In Marx at the Arcade, acclaimed researcher Jamie Woodcock delves into the hidden abode of the gaming industry. In an account that will appeal to hardcore gamers, digital skeptics, and the joystick-curious, Woodcock unravels the vast networks of artists, software developers, and factory and logistics workers whose seen and unseen labor flows into the products we consume on a gargantuan scale. Along the way, he analyzes the increasingly important role the gaming industry plays in contemporary capitalism and the broader transformations of work and the economy that it embodies.

Jamie Woodcock is a sociologist of work, focusing on digital labor, the gig economy, and resistance. He is currently a fellow at the London School of Economics and is the author of the award-winning Working the Phones (2016). He is on the editorial board of Historical Materialism and an editor of Notes from Below, an online journal of workers’ inquiry.

  • "Jamie Woodcock has written a book as fun and engrossing as any game. Not only does he bring a sharp Marxist analysis to the videogames industry--in turn, he uses games to further our understanding of Marx. Whether you game or not, an indispensable book." —Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt

    "In his delightful Marx at the Arcade, Jamie Woodcock launches an urgently-needed workers’ inquiry into video and computer games—investigating both the work that goes into producing such games and  the play in which so many of us seek relief from constant work. Lucid, scholarly, energetic and itself playful, Marx at the Arcade sets a new frontier for radical political understanding of the digital game." —Nick Dyer-Witheford

    "Marx at the Arcade is an important, brilliant and timely read that reveals the oft-ignored lives of overworked and exploited game workers, as well as the rise of the global Game Workers Unite movement that is fighting for change. Placing games within the context of a wider cultural and political struggle, Woodcock makes a compelling case for combating the toxic and reactionary elements of games culture, and pushing games towards a more positive, radical role in the world." —Karn Bianco, Games Workers Unite

    "Combining the unalloyed enthusiasm of the gamer with the critical gaze of the historical materialist, Jamie Woodcock's book cracks open the console to reveal the struggles over value, labour and the meaning of play that haunt the world of videogames. Even readers who last played a videogame in an arcade will gain much from this lucid and combative exploration of the industry that organizes the "free time" of countless millions."—Alberto Toscano, Reader in Critical Theory, Goldsmiths, University of London, author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea

    “In this highly readable, up-to-the-minute counter-guide to videogame work and play, Jamie Woodcock skillfully breaks play out of the “magic circle,” not only revealing capitalism’s shaping influence on digital game culture but also restoring a political perspective on games as a site of struggle. Whether revisiting game history, analyzing individual games, unpacking the distinctiveness of the game commodity, or reporting on the increasingly contested working conditions of game developers, Woodcock richly illustrates the use value of Marxian concepts to the critical study of game media.” —Greig de Peuter, co-author of Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games

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