Video game culture is the institutionalisation of video game practices, experiences and meanings in contemporary societies, which places video games and video gaming not only in a central position among other cultural products but also traverses everyday life: an increasing number of people play video games and they are starting to be recognised as part of our social imaginary, enabling the construction of identities and communities based on them.
In its humanistic sense (the most restrictive), culture can be understood as that which is possessed after the effort made to take care of it. Culture distinguishes those who posses it from those who don’t. For the European elites of the 18th century, culture allowed the distinction between the Western European who have achieved the most remarkable human qualities and those, the poor and illiterate along with the non European, seen as primitive in their scale of progress (Berger, 1995: 15). This conceptualisation of culture is not useful for my research because it is too restrictive and discriminating.
In the turn to the 20th century, this ethnocentric usage of the voice ‘culture’ gave way to the traditional anthropological notion of culture, defined by Tylor - whose influence in the emergence and consolidation of anthropology is beyond doubt - in the following inclusive and universal terms:
Culture or Civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society (Tylor, 1871: 1).
If the concept of culture is taken in this broad and general sense, and applied as such directly into game studies, this can lead into a rather heavy-handed way to conceptualize ‘game culture’. (…) One could also certainly argue that games do not define our existence or place in a society in a way that belonging to a traditional ethnic culture, say Bantu or Inuit culture, defines the way of life and identity for those people. But games and game playing practices do have some significance for those people who are actively engaged with games (Mäyrä 2008: 23).
- Berger, Bennett M. (1995). An Essay on Culture: Symbolic Structure and Social Structure. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Crawford, Garry (2012). Video Gamers. London: Routledge.
- Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.
- Mäyrä, Frans (2008). An Introduction to Game Studies. London: Sage.
- Tylor, Edward B. (1871). Primitive Culture: Researches Into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom. London: John Murray.