Gaming Globally: Production, Play, and Place

Nina B. Huntemann & Ben Aslinger, eds.| Palgrave Macmillan | 2013

Nina B. Huntemann and Ben Aslinger’s edited collection, Gaming Globally: Production, Play, and Place, investigates the industry and culture of video games using a globalization framework, one that considers the relationships among multiple actors across varying scales of production and play. As one of the first collections of its kind, Gaming Globally includes foundational work that encourages new conversations and shifts older discussions about the formal and informal video game industries.

With its ambition to touch on several previously underexplored gaming markets, including India, China, and the Middle-East, Huntemann and Aslinger’s collection respects the diversity of game development and play worldwide while also engaging in serious examinations of the global video game industry at a macro and micro level. Peichi Chung and Anthony Fung exemplify the collection’s attention to local contexts and global flows in their examination of the Chinese online gaming industry.

In this passage, Chung and Fung examine the structure of the Chinese gaming industry, briefly summarizing the development of the Internet and online gaming before providing a breakdown of the state, local, and translational game companies that have shaped the country’s video game sector and culture. Chung and Fung review how Internet penetration rapidly developed between 2000 and 2010, jumping from 23 million to almost half a billion over the course of the decade and allowing China to surpass the United States as the world’s largest Internet and online game market. Today, Chinese state agencies censor game content, limit the import of foreign games, and promote a “healthy game culture.” Consequently, according to Chung and Fung, local developers produce games with predominantly historical or epic themes to avoid controversy. Additionally, local companies edge out foreign competition by imitating successful international designs and “downgrading” these local versions to work on the older computers that many Chinese players own. For their part, transnational game companies contribute to the local industry by establishing subsidiary studios or outsourcing labor, as in the case of Tom Clancy’s End War produced by Ubisoft Shanghai. While these arrangements do help transfer skills to local workforces, they effectively eliminate the production of “Chinese” games, instead producing games for international markets.

Importantly, Gaming Globally arrives at a time when game studies scholars are increasingly turning to media industry studies approaches, and media industry researchers are increasingly acknowledging the importance of video games to other media ecologies and markets.

Huntemann, Nina B., and Aslinger, Ben. Gaming Globally: Production, Play, and Place. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.