Dr. Aphra Kerr is a Professor in Sociology at Maynooth University in Ireland and holds a PhD in Communication Studies (DCU, 2000). She is a PI at the Science Foundation Ireland funded ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, a multi-institutional national research centre (2021-2027). Her books include Global Games: Production, Circulation and Policy in the Networked Age, Routledge, 2017. In 2020 she was elected to the Academy of Europe and in 2016 she received a Distinguished Scholar award from the international Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA). She is an external expert advisor to the Pan European Games Information system (PEGI).
Making and Banking Value in Digital Games
FROG 2023 – Keynote
Physical money is being replaced by all sorts of digital tokens, and the new arbitrators of these digital tokens are no longer solely our central banks. Digital games are part of this wider trend, and have within, and around, them a range of formal and informal economies. Post 2012 industry data reveals that digital downloads and free to play had overtaken traditional retail and upfront purchase in many markets. People are purchasing and playing digitally. While the console sector has always been concentrated, we are seeing similar concentration patterns emerging in other sub-sectors. A small number of major non-European platforms and publishers are capturing an increasing amount of the financial value created by games in emerging sectors, and intermediating significant financial flows. While successful European mobile game development companies and tool makers have emerged over the past decade, they have quickly become targets for acquisition by global publishers from outside of Europe. This talk draws upon data from three collaborative research projects. In the first we are analysing the revenue and data for game companies in a range of countries and examining changes over time in the ownership and market dominance of certain companies. In the second we consider the working conditions of digital game makers. The development of local chapters of Game Workers Unite has revealed troubling differentials in pay between occupations and demographics to add to considerable workplace culture issues. In the third we are analysing the implications of these digitalisation shifts for young people, especially in relation to user privacy, and gambling practices and promotion. In the final analysis I will consider the implications of these trends for European game makers and players.