How do virtual cities reflect our modern social realities?
Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies and Neoliberalism by Jon Bailes.
Publication date: 27th September 2019 (UK), 1st October 2019 (US). Published by Zero Books.
ISBN: 978-1-78904-164-4 (Paperback) £9.99 $14.95
EISBN: 978-1-78904-165-1 (e-book) £7.99 $11.96
Ideology and the Virtual City is an exploration of modern society and the critical value of popular culture. It combines a prescient social theory that describes how ‘neoliberal’ ideology in today’s societies dominates our economic, political and cultural ideals, with an entertaining exploration of narratives, characters and play structures in some of today’s most interesting videogames. Through this analysis, the book takes readers into a range of simulated urban environments that symbolise the hidden antagonisms of social life and create outlandish resolutions through their power fantasies. In doing so, it shows how interactive entertainment can help us better understand the different ways people relate to the modern ‘common sense’ neoliberal background, both in terms of absorbing its assumptions, and questioning them.
“Videogames are gradually recognized as a new cultural form which reaches far beyond mere entertainment: they enact new forms of subjectivity and temporality. However, this fascination with the new form should not render us blind for the fact that, in their content, even at its most magic, videogames are firmly rooted in our neoliberal capitalism and faithfully mirror its antinomies. This is where Bailes’s book enters. Through a detailed analysis of selected games, from Grand Theft Auto to Persona, he demonstrates how they reproduce the key dimensions of a modern megalopolis: the City as Playground, as Battleground, as Wasteland, as Prison… Ideology and the Virtual City is not only insanely readable; in its combination of vivid descriptions with theoretical stringency, it provides an unsurpassable introduction into the deadlocks of our real life. In short, an instant classic for everyone who wants to understand not just games but our reality itself.” — Slavoj Žižek
“Videogames are the battle ground on which the culture wars are fought, and the space of gaming is shaping the political present and future, whether we like it or not. In this insightful and politically vital intervention, Jon Bailes reads the contemporary city through its representation in videogames and considers how city space itself is transformed by games. Bailes shows how the city and the virtual world can hardly be separated, making a case for a critical-theoretical engagement with games which makes their politics, importance and limitations visible. A timely and important book on a topic so easily and so often misunderstood, setting the terms for future discussions of gaming.” — Alfie Bown
Jon Bailes co-runs stateofnatureblog.com. He is a researcher and author who writes extensively about ideology, neoliberalism and popular culture. He has a PhD in European Studies from University college London, and has published numerous journal articles. He is also a freelance videogame critic, writing reviews and commentaries for The Guardian, Edge, Kotaku UK, Unwinnable, Wireframe and others.