Call For Papers: Special Issue "The Colonization of Play by Neoliberal Capitalism"


Guest Editors: Thiago Falcão (Federal University of Paraíba) | Kishonna L. Gray (University of Illinois Chicago / USA)

One of the most pernicious effects of neoliberal capitalism is the colonization of play: the appropriation of creative and playful dynamics in favor of the accelerated pace of production and accumulation assumed as a rule by post-industrial societies. The corruption of the ludic impulse in favor of the production of instrumental materialities, sociabilities, subjectivities. This problem was explored by a number of scholars in the field of game studies but did not go unnoticed by philosophers and cultural theorists - thinkers such as Byung Chul-Han, Jonathan Crary, and Mark Fisher, among others, who paid attention to the discussion, underlining the way in which the use of game mechanics in the management and maintenance of the world of work eviscerates the ludic sense of activity, reducing it to the insidious carcass of neoliberal productivity.   

The last decades have witnessed how play was reaffirmed as a phenomenon whose strength traverses several manifestations of contemporary culture, and that is imperative for the understanding of this social spectrum. We perceive, from the outset, two dimensions that represent what we address as the colonization of the game. First, we observe a cultural dimension, which relies on the exploration of the relationship between play and consumer culture - usually flattening ludic subjectivities in the detriment of consumerism. Then, there is a technical dimension that acknowledges principles of social engineering as if they were suitable, devoid of intentions and biases. This Special Issue proposes to gather reflections on the nature of this co-opted/corrupted play - and how it insinuates itself in our daily lives. From live broadcasts of political candidates like Guilherme Boulos in Brazil to international politicians like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez; from geopolitical repercussions and reports of male toxicity in the field of sports to the exploitation undertaken through the dynamics of gamification and gamblification, it is certain that play in contemporaneity is not simply puerile entertainment, but rather a phenomenon taken over, colonized by neoliberal dynamics that appropriate a complex network of materialities, affections, and subjectivities. 

The purpose of this Special Issue, thus, is to advance this discussion, both in its philosophical and material dimensions, offering analysis of communities of practice, (game) design, distribution strategies and political economy, and sociability, more broadly. Topics of interest for this dossier include, but are not limited to:

- Critical perspectives on Gamification and Gamblification practices

- Relations between Game and Work; 

- Professionalization of the Game; 

- Games and Cognitive Capitalism;

- Games and Gender, Race and Sexuality; 

- Social Representations of Global South in Games;

- Transgression and Subversion Practices in the Games;

- Modding, Hacking and Counter-Hegemonic Appropriations;

We encourage anyone with questions to contact us through the emails and We are available! 

Important dates: 

Deadline for full articles: May 31st.

Publication of the issue: August 31st. 



FALCÃO, T., MARQUES, D.; MUSSA, I. #BoycottBlizzard: Platform Capitalism and the Colonization of Play. Contracampo – Brazilian Journal of Communication, 39(2), 59-78, 2020.

FALCÃO, T., MARQUES, D.; MUSSA, I. MACEDO, T. At the Edge of Utopia. Esports, Neoliberalism and the Gamer Culture’s Descent into Madness. Gamevironments, v. 13, 2020. 

FISHER, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Hants: Zero Books, 2009. 

HAN, Byung-Chul. Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power. London: Verso, 2017a.

HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo Ludens. A Study of the Play Element of Culture. London: Routledge, 1949. 

JOHNSON, Mark; WOODCOCK, Jamie. ‘It’s like the gold rush’: the lives and careers of professional video game streamers on Information, Communication and Society,  v.  22,  n.  3,  p.  336-351,  2017. 

MALABY, Thomas. Parlaying Value: Capital in and Beyond Virtual Worlds. Games and Culture,  v.  1,  n.  2,  p.  141-162,  apr.  2006.  

MITCHELL, Liam. Ludopolitics: Videogames Against Control. Zero Books, 2018.

MUKHERJEE, S. Videogames and Postcolonialism: Empire Plays Back. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

MUSSA, I.; FALCÃO, T.; MACEDO, T. Lazer Liminar: Colonização do Jogo e Trabalho do Jogador no RappiGames. Antares, V. 12, N. 28, 2020. 

NIEBORG, David B.; POELL, Thomas. The platformization of cultural production: Theorizing the contingent cultural commodity. New Media & Society, v. 20, n. 11, p. 4275–4292, nov. 2018.

PENIX-TADSEN, P. Cultural Code: Video Games and Latin America. Cambridge:

The MIT Press. 2016.

PENIX-TADSEN, P., ed., Video Games and the Global South. Pittsburgh: Carnegie, Mellon University, 2019.

ZUBOFF,  Shoshana.  Big other:  Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an  information civilization. Journal of Information Technology, v. 30, n. 1, p. 75-89, 2015. 


Thiago Falcão (UFPB)

Kishonna Gray (UIC/USA)