Ideology and the Virtual City
An exploration of modern society and the critical value of popular culture.
Ideology and the Virtual City is an exploration of modern society and the critical value of popular culture. It combines a prescient social theory that describes how ‘neoliberal’ ideology in today’s societies dominates our economic, political and cultural ideals, with an entertaining exploration of narratives, characters and play structures in some of today’s most interesting videogames. The book takes readers into a range of simulated urban environments that symbolise the hidden antagonisms of social life and create outlandish resolutions through their power fantasies. Interactive entertainment can help us understand the ways in which people relate to a modern ‘common sense’ neoliberal background, in terms of absorbing assumptions, and questioning them.
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Videogames are gradually recognized as a new cultural form which reaches far beyond mere entertainment: they enact new forms of subjectivity and temporality. However, this fascination with the new form should not render us blind for the fact that, in their content, even at its most magic, videogames are firmly rooted in our neoliberal capitalism and faithfully mirror its antinomies. This is where Bailes’s book enters. Through a detailed analysis of selected games, from Grand Theft Auto to Persona, he demonstrates how they reproduce the key dimensions of a modern megalopolis: the City as Playground, as Battleground, as Wasteland, as Prison… Ideology and the Virtual City is not only insanely readable; in its combination of vivid descriptions with theoretical stringency, it provides an unsurpassable introduction into the deadlocks of our real life. In short, an instant classic for everyone who wants to understand not just games but our reality itself. ~ Slavoj Zizek
Videogames are the battle ground on which the culture wars are fought, and the space of gaming is shaping the political present and future, whether we like it or not. In this insighful and politically vital intervention, Jon Bailes reads the contemporary city through its representation in videogames and considers how city space itself is tranformed by games. Bailes shows how the city and the virtual world can hardly be separated, making a case for a critical-theoretical engagement with games which makes their politics, importance and limitations visible. A timely and important book on a topic so easily and so often misunderstood, setting the terms for future discussions of gaming. ~ Alfie Bown, author of The Playstation Dreamworld