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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Sâmia Pedraça, Communication Studies

Reframing the Game: How the interaction between technology, culture, and marketing plays along in the platform society

Date & time
Monday, April 15, 2024
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Nadeem Butt


Communication Studies and Journalism Building
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Room 2.409

Wheel chair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


The video game industry has substantially transformed itself in the last decade. Many companies had to adapt to fit into the new logic of game production and consumption dominating the global market. In the continuous evolution of digital communication, technologies like social network systems, mobile devices, app stores, and live-streaming broadcasting allied to their capacity to gather and move a large amount of user data, have each played crucial roles in speeding up the rate of change in the game industry, making the process of adaptation a challenge for many in the sector. This rapid digital transformation has also affected players. While expert players had to adapt to new ways of paying for and playing games, subjecting themselves to new designs, mechanics, and gameplay lengths that did not please most of them, newbies found new opportunities to expand their gameplay.

Drawing from Kline et al.’s (2003) original work, this dissertation examines the current state of the game industry, underlining the significant changes it has been facing over the years. In their scholarship, Kline and his colleagues developed an analytical tool to investigate the video game medium in the context of a high-intensity marketplace. This tool, which they call the three circuits of interactivity, elucidates the interplay between technology, culture, and marketing when inserted within the larger circuit of capital. I make use of their circuitry analytical toolbox to investigate the current historical, social, cultural, and economic context surrounding the game industry. In broad strokes, this study examines how the industry’s new business models and strategies influence and leverage these circuits, which, in turn, interferes, accelerates, and intensifies the interconnections between them, thereby generating new layers of interactivity at every turn.

The video game industry is massive in scope, and its business strategies vary according to each developer’s size and ambitions. Thus, this research focuses on two mainstream companies as a case study: the American company Electronic Arts and the Chinese giant Tencent. By following how these companies have driven their production practices and business strategies to match the new technological, social, cultural, and economic contexts that emerged in the last decade, this study attempts to understand the processes that shaped the game industry during the 2010s. This research uses critical political economy and textual analysis as methodological tools to look closely at a large corpus of financial documents, annual reports, specialized reports, streaming channels, and news articles to make sense of how the changes in the production logic took place in the global market. As this research demonstrates, such interplay between the circuits tends to be guided by the marketing circuit; accordingly, the results from such intense acceleration between the circuits and the formation of new layers of interactivity mainly entail the reduction of social and cultural relationships and experiences to mere monetary transactions.

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