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Videogame consumption: The apophatic dimension

Brock, T (2016) Videogame consumption: The apophatic dimension. Journal of Consumer Culture. ISSN 1469-5405

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Abstract

This article applies psychological-sociological accounts of the ‘apophatic’, a form of negative thinking, to examples of gaming practices to conceptualise a new theory of videogame consumption. It challenges the prevailing notion that the games consumer is always a ‘cataphatic’ thinker – that is, an activistic, rational-pleasure seeker – and looks to the ‘sorrows’ of gaming to find evidence of its more undesirable nature. The term ‘apophatic’ is characterised as an attempt to de-value the rational value purportedly placed on gaming practices. ‘Griefing’ other players is a good example of this apophatic ethic, where players derive value from the subversion of serious play through the disruption and destruction of other players’ game worlds. The struggle with ‘failure’ is another. As such, the article concludes with a reflection on the almost unsayable nature of videogame consumption, and suggests that consumer value may be derived from its more negative, spiritual-like aspects.

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