There is an abundance of studies on social movements and how these employ digital media as a tool for organization, mobilization and dissemination. However, the majority of the literature focusses on social media, while paying less attention other forms of digital media, such as videogames. Studies on in-game activism are scarce, and most studies limit themselves by describing or categorizing in-game repertoire. The experiences of activists and why or how they make use of their videogame environments for activism is overlooked in the literature. Therefore, this study examined how activists experienced the affordances of videogames for in-game political actions. Twelve interviews were conducted with organizers, coordinators and attendees of in-game contentious actions, while affordance theory provided a theoretical model to perform an inductive thematic analysis on the way they engaged with the videogame’s features. Based on the findings of this study a model on in-game collective action is proposed that encapsulates the unique dynamic for in-game activism. Participants used the videogame as a social space, logistical space, public sphere and as part of a media ecosystem that supported their in-game contentious actions. The participants employ the space and functionalities of videogames as a social space, setting up communities, formalizing roles, organizing events, gathering in-game resources and acquiring organizational know-how and leadership skills. These structures and skills are, when the need arises, used to appropriate the videogame for contentious action. In-game organizations afforded tools to build coalitions, form consensus and mobilize their members. While group-mechanics, chat functions, pre-events, rewards and social capital facilitated in-game mobilization efforts. Through in-game contentious actions the videogame space turns into a public sphere, which enables the circulation of and discussion on societal issues. Furthermore, in-game activism itself is debated. In this dynamic, participants experienced disruptive acts performed by other players and this, in turn, forced them to develop counter-tactics. The videogame was also seen as part of an ecosystem of media that supported in-game action. External communication platforms were used to support organizational efforts, while social media was used for mobilization and the dissemination of in-game actions. Furthermore, in some cases social media proved to be the space in-game action emerged from.

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Delia Dumitrica
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Joep Tempelaar. (2022, August 8). VIDEOGAME SPACES AS POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES Videogames and affordances for in-game activism. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from