Making games normal: computer gaming discourse in the 1980s

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Based on a study of 1980s UK computer and gaming magazines, this article argues that a gaming discourse emerges in the middle of the decade with the strategic goal of normalizing the activity. It succeeds – gaming spreads – but fails in that to present gaming effectively as an attractive leisure pursuit, gaming discourse has to absorb accusations of abnormality that were levelled at computer culture from the outset. Hence, ‘addictive’ gameplay becomes a good thing; the gamer is distinguished from the computer obsessive but is still defined as a ‘freak’, and gaming, having been presented as a realm of creative self-expression within the computer culture, becomes subject to the discourse of normal and correct computational practice. Gaming cannot escape the logic of its field, which determines that it will always try to be something more and better than gaming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1439-1454
Number of pages15
JournalNew Media & Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2014


  • Computer gaming, content analysis, discourse analysis, home computing, gamers, game studies, gaming discourse, gaming magazines, 1980s, technology and culture


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