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Useless games for a sustainable world
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2162-8353
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. (Technology Enhanced Learning)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6457-5231
2017 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many adults - not the least in the context their children’s gaming habits - think that computer games are a useless waste of time and money. Even gamers themselves can think that their gaming habit represents a less-than-useful activity and that they ought to do something else (or at least play less). We here make no normative judgements about the utility (or not) of games but instead analyse computer games from a sustainability perspective. Are computer games “useful” or are they “useless” when regarded through a sustainability lens and against a backdrop of problematising the relationship between sustainability and consumption?

 

In the sustainability discourse it is clear that Westerners urgently need to decrease their consumption. Or, do they actually only need to decrease the material footprint of their consumption? Could it in fact be the case that high-and-increasing volumes of commerce around digital computer game artefacts (downloadable content, virtual objects and badges) could be framed as “environmentally beneficial”, since the money in question is not spent on other activities, products and services with a considerably higher materials footprint? That would mean that spending money for a “useless” virtual badge inside a computer game actually could be framed as “useful” act of anti-conspicuous consumption in a larger - non-digital - societal context[1] . Analysing the materials intensity of consuming digital content and services is however complicated by the fact that digital games can have tangible real-world material (rebound) effect. With this summer’s large-scale Pokémon Go craze, sales of powerbanks exploded and some half-jokingly referred to these as ‘Pokebanks’. This furthermore echoes last year’s increase in the sales of graphic cards then the computationally demanding game “Witcher 3” was released.

 

We have, as researchers/lecturers in Media Technology and as parents thought about the sustainability impact of computer games for some time and look forward to having the opportunity to develop these ideas in a paper to your workshop on “Uselessness”.

conspicuous consumption inside the computer game but anti-conspicuous consumption from the point of view of the larger society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-208871OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-208871DiVA: diva2:1108359
Conference
Unnecessary, Unwanted and Uncalled-for: A Workshop on Uselessness, University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 28-30, 2017
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency, 38208-1
Note

QC 20170613

Available from: 2017-06-12 Created: 2017-06-12 Last updated: 2017-06-13Bibliographically approved

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Pargman, DanielHedin, Björn
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