Alesha Serada is a PhD student and a researcher at the University of Vaasa, Finland. Their dissertation, supported by the Nissi Foundation, discusses construction of value in games and art on blockchain. Inspired by their Belarusian origin, their research interests revolve around exploitation, violence, horror, deception and other banal and non-banal evils in visual media.
Each Monster Has Its Own Voice: Creativity, Alienation and My Singing Monsters
FROG 2021 – Talk
Music has been connected to magic and spirituality, most likely, since its beginning in human society (Morley 2013). The magical powers of music are the main theme in many so-called music video games that mimic and gamify various activities related to composing and performing music (Austin 2016). The game that I analyze here is a mobile and desktop casual game called My Singing Monsters (Big Blue Bubble, 2012). It was developed in Canada in 2012 at an early stage of explosive growth of free-to-play games in the West and is still enjoyed by millions in 2021. The game offers a fun and user friendly music editor, as well as the possibility to share one’s compositions with other players – a unique feature that is adored by the core player base. However, the mechanics of the game that takes most of the player’s time is removed from the process of making music. I suggest that, to keep up with the free-to-play business logic, the game playfully introduces techniques of quantification and reification (Lukacs, 1972) of labour, which results in alienation from the results of one’s potentially creative input. Does the attention economy of this game kill the magic of its creativity? I conclude that the liberating potential of the game can still be found in its monstrosity, which puts it apart from the typical, and potentially exploitative aesthetic of ‘cuteness’ (Page, 2016) in free-to-play games. Selected references Austin, M. (2016). Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. Lukacs, G. (1972). History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. MIT Press. Morley, I. (2013). The Prehistory of Music: Human Evolution, Archaeology, and the Origins of Musicality. OUP Oxford. My Singing Monsters: Dawn of Fire. (2015). Big Blue Bubble. Page, A. (2016). “This Baby Sloth Will Inspire You to Keep Going”: Capital, Labor, and the Affective Power of Cute Animal Videos. In The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness (pp. 75–94). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315658520-9