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A Precarious GameThe Illusion of Dream Jobs in the Video Game Industry$
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Ergin Bulut

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501746529

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501746529.001.0001

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Game Testers as Precarious Second-Class Citizens

Game Testers as Precarious Second-Class Citizens

Degradation of Fun, Instrumentalization of Play

(p.122) 6 Game Testers as Precarious Second-Class Citizens
A Precarious Game

Ergin Bulut

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on another group of marginalized actors in the game industry: game testers. As a means of getting one's foot in the industry, video game testing constitutes an arena of “cruel optimism.” Video game testing is a decidedly temporary position appealing mostly to young people with fewer occupational skills than the core creatives. Testers endure extreme precarity in hopes of garnering the symbolic capital they gain in the industry, a permanent position, or new job in one of development's other disciplines, such as design, art, or programming. The chapter coins the term “degradation of fun” to illuminate the process through which the joy derived from testing is diminished due to precarity, instrumentalized play, and surveillance in the workplace.

Keywords:   game industry, game testers, video game testing, precarity, instrumentalized play, workplace surveillance

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