The Playstation Dreamworld: Capitalism and Videogaming

A masterclass and talk exploring the intersection between capitalism, dream analysis and videogaming, based on Alfie Bown’s book The Playstation Dreamworld (Polity, 2017). Organised by Ben Moore (Department of English, UvA).

Time: Wednesday 10th January 2018 (postgraduate masterclass 2.00-4.00pm; talk 5.00-6.00pm)

Location: TBC

Readings will be distributed in advance for those participating in the masterclass (no preparation is required for the talk). 1EC is available for registered RMA students who attend both parts of the event.

Full Description: As the phenomenon of Pokémon Go made clear in 2016, videogaming now takes place not in a separate sphere, isolated from the mainstream of modern capitalist society, but at society’s very centre. The structure of dream consciousness promoted by gaming inescapably shapes our world, arising from the multitude of screens that surround us and mediate the way we perceive the everyday world, as well as its possible futures and our role within them. Alfie Bown’s new book argues that such ubiquity should not be understood purely in terms of ideological control however, or as merely another way in which leisure time is commodified for the benefit of narrow economic interests; rather, drawing on Lacanian dream  analysis, we can find videogaming to be a subtle and even subversive space, which holds the potential to reshape the politics of the Left even as it serves the domination of a hegemonic capitalist consensus. Drawing on insights from Bown’s work, this event provides a chance to explore the link between videogaming, psychoanalysis and capitalism, and to reconsider the relevance of what we might call ‘capitalist dream analysis’ for cultural analysis and practice more widely.

Slavoj Žižek writes of The Playstation Dreamworld: ‘It is not that we can understand the impact of these games only through the analysis of our social reality - it's also the other way round: to understand how our societies work you have to know video games  And Alfie Bown does this at such a high level that he produces an instant classic, a book that everyone who seeks to find a way in our confused social life will have to read. THE PLAYSTATION DREAMWORLD is unputdownable. Once you start reading it you will get addicted to it... as in a good  video game!’ For Žižek’s discussion of Bown’s previous book, Enjoying It, see http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2017/05/slavoj-zizek-you-have-to-be-stupid-to-see-that-ideology-in-daily-life-2/

In its interest in cultural analysis and psychoanalysis, this event can loosely be considered as a sequel to the ASCA/NICA ‘Everyday Analysis and Politactics’ session held in May 2017, although no previous knowledge of the earlier session will be assumed.

There will be two parts to the day: a masterclass led by Alfie Bown and Ben Moore aimed at postgraduate students (although all are welcome), and a talk by Alfie Bown followed by questions/discussion. Readings will be distributed in advance of the masterclass for registered participants. No preparation is required for the talk.

1EC is available for registered RMA students who attend both parts of the event.Please register by sending an email to Eloe Kingma at asca-fgw@uva.nl mentioning your affiliation.

Guest Speaker: Alfie Bown is the author of Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism (Zero Books, 2015), The Playstation Dreamworld (Polity, 2017) and In the Event of Laughter: Hegelianism, Psychoanalysis and Comedy (forthcoming, 2018), as well as founding editor of Hong Kong Review of Books (https://hkrbooks.com/) and co-editor of the Everyday Analysis project, which has published three volumes of collected essays and is now in partnership with New Socialist (https://newsocialist.org.uk/). He is an Assistant Professor of Literature at HSMC, Hong Kong.

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Published by  ASCA

28 August 2017