Book Launch – Marx at the Arcade

2nd May 2019

Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle

Jamie Woodcock


Join us at one of the below launch events for a groundbreaking book on the politics and production of videogames.

18 May, 2:30pm

With Games Workers Unite

Bread and Roses at the Chapel


Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/marx-at-the-arcade-book-launch-tickets-60821428530


30 May, 18:30pm

With Marijam Didžgalvytė

Waterstones, Trafalgar Square


Tickets: https://www.waterstones.com/events/marx-at-the-arcade-consoles-controllers-and-class-struggle/london-trafalgar-square?fbclid=IwAR1nwk6gLBVHc7MWqaQfwY7PJVzkej_aKGvi9Lsc2rLSRZHfKDXCleaI3KM

Raking in $135 billion a year, videogames far outstrip film and music in their generation of vast profits for capital. Yet, despite the importance of the industry as an avenue for capitalist investment and a source of cultural production, it is rarely analysed with the same seriousness as more traditional forms of art and entertainment.

“Marx at the Arcade” is a groundbreaking study of not only the politics and history of videogames, but also of their production: of the terrible working conditions that force horrendous hours during the “crunch”, the intensified exploitation made possible by the supposed glamour of many people’s “dream job”, the atomisation and deskilling of the workforce in the search for greater profit. And, crucially, of the growing efforts of workers across the globe in the industry to organise collectively to demand change.

As class struggle within the sector becomes sharper and more visible, a Marxist framework helps to untangle the vast networks of artists, software developers, and factory and logistics workers whose labour produces commodities that we consume on an ever increasing, mass scale.

This is a book for hardcore gamers, digital skeptics, and the joystick-curious.

Acclaimed researcher Jamie Woodcock is a sociologist of work, focusing on digital labor, the gig economy, and resistance. He is currently a fellow at the London School of Economics and is the author of the award-winning Working the Phones (2016). He is on the editorial board of Historical Materialism and an editor of Notes from Below, an online journal of workers’ inquiry.

“Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle” is published by Haymarket Books (RRP £12.99). Pre-order from Waterstones here:



Customers in North America can order directly from the Haymarket website here:


“Jamie Woodcock has written a book as fun and engrossing as any game. Not only does he bring a sharp Marxist analysis to the videogames industry–in turn, he uses games to further our understanding of Marx. Whether you game or not, an indispensable book.” —Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt

“Marx at the Arcade is an important, brilliant and timely read that reveals the oft-ignored lives of overworked and exploited game workers, as well as the rise of the global Game Workers Unite movement that is fighting for change. Placing games within the context of a wider cultural and political struggle, Woodcock makes a compelling case for combating the toxic and reactionary elements of games culture, and pushing games towards a more positive, radical role in the world.” —Karn Bianco, Games Workers Unite

“In his delightful Marx at the Arcade, Jamie Woodcock launches an urgently-needed workers’ inquiry into video and computer games—investigating both the work that goes into producing such games and the play in which so many of us seek relief from constant work. Lucid, scholarly, energetic and itself playful, Marx at the Arcade sets a new frontier for radical political understanding of the digital game.” —Nick Dyer-Witheford

“Combining the unalloyed enthusiasm of the gamer with the critical gaze of the historical materialist, Jamie Woodcock’s book cracks open the console to reveal the struggles over value, labour and the meaning of play that haunt the world of videogames. Even readers who last played a videogame in an arcade will gain much from this lucid and combative exploration of the industry that organizes the “free time” of countless millions.”—Alberto Toscano, Reader in Critical Theory, Goldsmiths, University of London, author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea

“In this highly readable, up-to-the-minute counter-guide to videogame work and play, Jamie Woodcock skillfully breaks play out of the “magic circle,” not only revealing capitalism’s shaping influence on digital game culture but also restoring a political perspective on games as a site of struggle. Whether revisiting game history, analyzing individual games, unpacking the distinctiveness of the game commodity, or reporting on the increasingly contested working conditions of game developers, Woodcock richly illustrates the use value of Marxian concepts to the critical study of game media.” —Greig de Peuter, co-author of Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games