Video Game Culture

I guess the machinima and virtual fashion are both parts of the Video Game Culture—I don’t actually know if this term exists or not… I just want to share some own experiences related to the cultural phase of video game.

7 years ago, my friends and I started to play the famous Star Craft. After months of being devoted into this game, we decided to found our own Star Craft clan, like other Quake clans. We voted for the clan name, clan leader and clan song. After that, we set up constitutions and three departments: Zerg, Protoss and Terran. We also started to recruit new member. Every applicant had to pass our test (we graded his performance in the play against one of our admission team). It is totally like an openning of a new company, or a new Kongfu association in the old time. This was what we—a group of 16 years old high school students were excited about everyday. We were feeling that we’re doing really big stuff.

During those two years, the centre of our life was Star Craft. We were talking about battle strategies and skills all day long. We spent weekends and summer vacation hanging out at internet cafes, talking, laughing and battling. We were also talking about the emerging e-sports development, the future of e-sports and the possibility of professionalizing e-sports clans.

“people relate to each other and to objects on the basis of shared meanings.” Most members in our clan became the best friends. We’re the most famous micro-community in our school. We have our own Star Craft jokes and terms. At the mean time Internet literature was emerging and becoming popular. So some of us were also writing literature articles regarding our Star Craft life on forums. I celebrated my 17 years old birthday in the internet cafe with cakes, Star Craft and clan members.

This is just one example of the entire Star Craft community in China at that time. There was a popular saying: “We can’t play Star Craft for the whole life, but we can be friends for that long”. It is true that our clan members don’t play Star right now, but We’re still best friends and we get together every year like a family.

I believe Star Craft has created a culture, by assembling those kids together, granting them friendships and giving them an ideal and a way to enjoy their lives.


  1. thismarty

    “I believe Star Craft has created a culture … ”

    Reading your post, describing the sort of micro-culture that you and your friends created around your StarCraft clan, got me to thinking that StarCraft had become a sort of “cultural platform”. The game literally acted as a platform for the construction of a discrete culture. I guess that’s more or less what games and communities like this are designed to do. Sort of the way clubs and professional societies and the like did before we had massivley networked experiences like StarCraft, et al.

  2. mingxian

    First of all, missing those young ages after reading your post. Today we are not 17 anymore, but we can keep a 17 heart, 16 energy to …….design! ^_^

  3. jeffreybardzell

    Excellent post, Zhuofeng. I’d like to make two observations.

    First, following the P. Smith reading from last week talks about micro theories of culture. That is, culture is created from the ground-up through concrete social interactions among real people in real situations. Your example here describes the creation of a micro-culture in such a way that it is easy to see how Goffman, Shutz, and Garfinkel might go about explaining it.

    Second, your stance with regard to this experience is clearly positive. You describe the emergence of a small community and with it friendships that are bigger than the game; you also describe some problem-solving, thought-provoking, intelligent conversations all of you had. Yet many today (especially “serious” adults in mainstream culture, on TV, etc.) fret that teens who spend all this time online are wasting their time on imaginary friends in imaginary worlds. How might the concept of “lifeworlds” explain how two groups of educated people could come to opposite opinions about the same phenomenon?

  4. laurabrunetti

    “How might the concept of “lifeworlds” explain how two groups of educated people could come to opposite opinions about the same phenomenon?”

    Well, if we’re talking about no one really knowing reality as it exists and lifeworlds being our own perceived reality in conjunction with intersubjectivity, here is group A comprised of folks with experiences where opinion A holds true. “Experiences” is used loosely here meaning that perhaps group A has the experience of reading/researching a lot about topics, rationalizing the info there through logic and read examples, internalizing it, and thus including it in their lifeworld as opinion/belief A. Am I allowed to say this? Group B on the other hand has experiences that lead them to opinion B.

    So in the context of video games and time wasting, group A reads some material, most likely receives it via the media, but possibly an “unbiased” academic study, maybe even has invested very minor amounts of time playing games (different from gaming) and forms the opinion that time is wasted. Where group B have extensive experience (gaming) and perhaps have read material on the topic as well, but are of the opinion that real learning (something of value) is possible. I guess in this context, one could claim, I said “educated”, to which I would ask, “what exactly do you mean by that?”

    Am I rambling yet?

  5. yenning

    About two weeks ago, a teenager in Taiwan committed suicide because his parents discourage him from playing MMO games.

    “The game is my life.” The teenager left this sentence.

    I think many “serious adults in main stream culture” believe that playing video games is waste of time. “You have lots of things more worthwhile to do.” To them, staying in front of computer is kind of indulgence.

    Howerver, to people playing video games, it is possible that they find their real selves in the process of playing. Through the medium, they define or redefine themselves in multiple ways. It is a novel and appealing experience. Besides, people need to communicate with each other. They are eager to search for identification. Zhuofeng’s experience is so impressed to him maybe because he found the identification. The clan shares the same hatred and affection. They experienced lots of things both in virtual and real life. They lived in both virtual and real reality.

  6. mingxian

    In nowadays, it is more and more difficult to day which is the “main stream”. It is a culture as a whole. It is also multi-cultures exist in the whole. And small cultures based on those cultures. The meaning of culture is blurred in my mind. I learned “culture model” in another class about system analysis, in which the culture could be environment as small as a couple of people and a office. I just want to say we use culture too much. We need to find a another specific term if we want to talk about it effectively some times.

    ^_^ Never mind. I just heard too many times of the word “culture” in these days, and it’s meaning keeps changing.

  7. zhuofengli

    Well, here’s my thoughts on Jeff’s interesting question:

    It’s true 8 years ago video games were judged as drugs by the main stream in China. Video games flooded into those adults’ lives by sudden. It is hard for them to accept this new way of entertainment. Most of them don’t play video games, but they saw so many kids got addicted to them, leaving their course work behind, or even leaving everything behind. “It’s like the opium” One journalist wrote in his report covering a student died in an internet cafe after playing games for 2 days without a stop.

    Young generation at my age, who accept new things fast, have grown up with video games. To us, video game was like basketball, soccer, movie and any other fun staff in our life. People at our age also get addicted to basketball, soccer and movie/TV, leaving their course work behind, why no one blames basketball, soccer and movie/TV? I’ll also take the loss of lives as extreme examples. People also get serious injury in sports and there are probably more loss of lives in sports, why no one blame sports?

    OK, I have to admit that the video games are much more attracting than sports and movie/TV to young generation. They entice kids away from their course work, their books and the correct life track. But what’s the correct track for human’s life? Go to great universities and win high-paid jobs? How about making a living on an easy job and playing video games all day long? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I find quite a contradiction in myself.

    I guess video game is like the wine. A small amount of wine makes you pleased, while a huge amount of wine makes you sick. So do not indulge, appropriate amount is the key to happiness.


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