The Ideology of Interactivity (or Video Games and Taylorization of Leisure)


Interactivity is one of the key conceptual apparatuses through which video games have been theorized thus far. As many writers have noted, video games are distinct from other forms of media because player actions seem to have direct, immediate consequences in the world depicted onscreen. But in many ways, this “interactive” feature of video games tends to manifest itself as a relentless series of demands, or a way of disciplining player behavior. In this sense, it seems more accurate to describe the human-machine interface made possible by gaming as an aggressive form of “interpellation” or hailing. Drawing primarily upon the work of Louis Althusser, I argue that traditional theories of interactivity fail to acknowledge the work of video games—in other words, the extent to which video games define and reconstitute players as subjects of ideology.