In collaboration with Fu Shanchao
As an increasingly important part of popular culture, video games seem to be more formalistic if compared with literature and cinema: the rules of gameplay are usually taken as more abstract and/or arbitrary and thus “magic-circled” from the outside world. On the other hand, the romantic conceptualization of “game” still underlies our understanding: we are inclined to consider games as “free and non-utilitarian”. Yet, video games, as both technological product and cultural commodity, are bound by industrial modernity and market of capitalism. This work tries to capture the moments in which the “mainstream value” plays a role in the production of video games. Gathering materials from the work agenda of developers, the advertising strategies of publishers, and the discourses of game media, we hope to demonstrate the significance of “topicality” as an imaginary mediator: within the mechanism of it, “mainstream” is both the prerequisite and an effect of communication.