The Digital Gamer and the Loss of the Power Fantasy

Oskar Milik


The concept of games being a form of "power fantasy" for the player is a common tool for describing or advertising them. This seems to be counter to the interests of digital games makers, however. This paper is based on ethnographic observations of different digital games and the ways in which the mechanics and organizational systems in them have lessened individual power for both the game player and the game character. We find that there are both mechanical as well as social influences that cause one to accept this changing power dynamic. Multiplayer and cloud storage in games creates reputation, for instance. This in turn leads to situations where the individual can be exploited by a group or company. We argue that this same pattern can be seen in other social groups and media and offer a tool to understand and combat disinformation and exploitative systems in the future.

view extended abstract