Authored by: Mark Hayse

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510


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When the word was first introduced by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1801, ideology meant an objective “science of ideas,” worthy of guiding positive sociopolitical change in the world. Later, however, Marx relocated ideology within a cultural framework rather than a scientific one. He argued that ideology reflects the subjectivity and bias of those who craft it. Furthermore, Marx contended that cultural conditions (both material and economic) profoundly shape the ideas that, as a result, shape society. From a Marxist perspective, State-sponsored ideology creates a false consciousness that extends the State’s control over the non-ruling class (Marx and Engels, [1939] 1978). Gramsci (1978) and Althusser (2001) add that various educational systems and private institutions can and do assist the State in this task. These various apparatuses elicit a certain kind of social and material practice, which in turn, propagates ideology. More narrowly, the apparatuses of popular culture propagate ideology, for they are constituted by privately-sponsored and economically-driven institutions that shape the conditions of existence for their consumers (Kavanagh, 1990). Thus, the particular apparatuses of video games—an important part of popular culture—mediate ideology, whether by default or design.

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