Game Cultures: Games Industry and Policy

Date & Time:

31st May, 16:00


Online event; the link will be sent to those who register.


This session focuses on policies and business practices in the games industry, with Steffi Shook and Justin Capalbo, and Maria O'Brien.

Steffi Shook and Justin Capalbo (Manhattanville College) Is Hasbro killing its Gilded Goose?: Influencer and player reactions to Magic: The Gathering’s trajectory

Magic: The Gathering has remained popular for 30 years, yet Bank of America recently stated Hasbro’s business practices are “killing the game.” Is it possible to kill Magic? We look to fan reactions to assess the result Hasbro’s recent initiatives have had on player morale.

Magic fans can be categorized based on their relationships with the game. Kitchen table players play for fun while competitive players compete in tournaments. Collectors tend to spend big on cards to keep while MTG finance buys to sell. Through a textual analysis of social media posts, we assess the sentiments of these player groups along with MTG influencers. We find that certain business practices have upset the MTG community across the board. These practices include flooding the game with new content, reprinting discontinued cards, and releasing unplayable collector cards.

These negative reactions jeopardize the precarious nature of perceived value necessary for Magic to survive. Looking to Huizinga’s notion of the magic circle as a consensual social phenomenon, we find that an unstable fan community threatens MTG’s semblance of worth. How strong can Magic’s magic circle be if those in it start questioning values? Can Magic really be killed?


Maria O’Brien (Queens University Belfast) Games as a cultural and economic force: Ireland’s new digital games tax credit

Ireland is the most recent European Union member to introduce a tax credit for digital games. Based on the long-standing film tax incentive/credit prosaically known as Section 481, the new Section 481A is aimed, in theory at least, at incentivising the development of the Irish digital games industry. However, in the Irish context the aims and potential impact of the tax credit are, it is contended, somewhat underdeveloped. Because Section 481A is deemed to be a state aid, it needs to align with the requirements of the European Commission as a cultural state aid under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty. This talk dissects Section 481A within the context of cultural policy theory, offering a way of understanding taxation policy as a form of instrumentalised cultural policy and as a form of EU audiovisual policy. This approach allows for identification of the policy values underpinning the new tax credit, from an economic, societal and cultural perspective.


About the speakers:

Steffi Shook, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College. Her research is in video game studies with a focus on media representation, queer temporality, and independent game production.

Justin Capalbo is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College. His current research focuses on AI’s impact on media production.

Maria O’Brien is a lecturer in the School of Arts, English & Languages in Queen’s University Belfast, specialising in media and new media industries research. She completed her PhD in 2020 in the School of Communications, Dublin City University. Her topic was on the Irish film tax credit, Section 481, from an Irish and European Union policy perspective. Her current research focuses on the new Digital Games Tax Credit in Ireland and other issues of audiovisual cultural policy. Maria started her career as a lawyer. completed a MA in Screen Studies in Goldsmiths, University of London in 2007, and since then has brought together issues of law, media studies and cultural policy.