Leisure in a world of ‘com-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-puter-puter, puter games’: a father and son conversation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Annals of Leisure Research, 2015, 18 (2), pp. 219 - 234
Issue Date:
2015-01-01
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© 2015 Australia and New Zealand Association of Leisure Studies. This article is a conversation between an academic and his 14-year-old son and investigates the links between leisure and computer games. It focuses specifically on the son as an adolescent in the context of Western consumer society. It is interested in how he explores his leisure in relation to the computer game ‘League of Legends’ and how this indicates his adolescent self, which is a self that is increasingly targeted, marketed, packaged and purchased. This analysis illustrates how the consumer packaging of the adolescent self through commodified leisure creates in a neoliberal society the negotiated realities of youth experience and social identity. The paper argues that consumer culture manufactures a world of escape, particularly for adolescent boys. It allows him (J) to transform his world into one he has more control over, separate from his parents' imposed regime and in a way that resists other forms of market-based influence. This is achieved through the adoption of identities that are offered in the games (a choice) that appear to challenge authority, albeit produced within youth culture and marketing, purchased and consumed in the belief that it is resistance. There is also a sense of friendship and shared identity with others in forming teams online to play the game. In these games, forms of adolescent deviance, resistance and control are normalised as challenging, exciting and risky while providing associations with power, self-fulfilment and a degree of online celebrity and identity exchange. In the final analysis, the paper explores some possibilities for parents to enter this world and understand the children and their constructions of self-identity in Western consumer society.
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