Capitalism and Videogames

Julian Zambito


ENGL 255B: Videogames and/as Literature

Carolyn Jong

Due: February 17th, 2017

Capitalism has become the ultimate structure of society. No matter what field of work you may be in, the common goal is to make the most money out of whatever you are doing. It is a social construct that gives companies a higher form of power compared to underdeveloped ones. An example of this would be indie game developers trying to make it in the gaming world while competing with mainstream companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. This can be seen with the rise and fall of Dong Nguyen’s app “Flappy Bird”. It was a free app available for mobile phones and received a lot of attention. However, it also received a tremendous amount of hate because the designed pipes are identical to the pipes from the “Super Mario Bros.” games. It comes to show that even if you succeed at making your own game, capitalism is the real ownership.

Capitalism is what seems to be driving the gaming society of today’s age. A lot of games that are being released are replicas because these companies know they will make profit. It has come to the point that money is greater than creativity, but these companies will never reveal their true intentions to their audiences. “We, as global, national, and artistic communities, justify a lot of shitty things on the premise of making money. This industry justifies sexism, racism, and all forms of discrimination and oppression because of some unwritten right to make money.” (Brice). Games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are so popular, yet do not really change over the years. They exploit violent and aggressive themes because they know what sells. Every game is a repetition of the same goal. That is because these companies have built enough popularity from their titles to keep on luring consumers. The same goes for the Mario Bros. franchise, Nintendo releases several Mario games and they all lead to the same ending. Mario dives into these colorful worlds, beats around obstacles and rescues the princess.

The game “To Build a Better Mousetrap” by Molleindustria represents the capitalist system and how to manage employees and their salary. The design of the game is split into three levels. The development stage, the manufacturing phase and the unemployment phase. The player is in charge of placing the mice in these three different groups while paying attention to the production of their product and how content their employees are. The goal of the game is to make the most amount of money by paying the least mice to work. Ultimately, it is to their detriment because they develop machines which will take over their work. The boss will always make money. At first, by overworking his employees to create equipment, and then by using the equipment to replace his employees. This will reduce his own cost because he is not paying out as much salary while increasing his productivity.

The desire to make money is the driving force behind many factions in life, this is no exception. Capitalizing on the popularity of an existing game, knowing that the visual similarities will lure consumers, is smart business, if not purely ethical.  Capitalistic decisions often lead to, or create, socialistic reactions. In the world of gaming it comes down to stealing, or borrowing, someone else’s vision and using it for one’s own personal gain.  It is a state of affairs that has existed since the dawn of big business and will continue well after our lifetime. In the end, who is it hurting? There is definitely enough money to be had by all.

Brice, Mattie. “Our Flappy Dystopia.” Alternate Ending. 10 February 2014.

To Build a Better Mousetrap (Molleindustria, 2014).

Capitalism and Videogames

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