Abstract Suominen Second Lives Of Digital Game Products
Second lives of digital game products
Jaakko Suominen (University of Turku)
The Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yle, published news about “the Stingy-week” on their website last summer.
According to the news, only 10 percent of old Finnish mobile phones are recycled. If all of two million recalled phones
were recycled, one could recover plastic, 30 kilos of gold, 600 kilos of silver and 20 tons of copper from them . The
piece of news shows that aged mobile phones – as well as computers, game consoles etc. – have certain importance
after their instant use value has been decreased. The phones themselves are not valuable as such, but they consist of
materials that can be /recycled /and can be used to make novel products. The lack of interest for recycling that has
been noted can also refer to other kind of revaluation. Even though large amount of rejected phones are just left in
bins and cupboards, one could argue that for some people, those mobiles have “remembrance value”. This value,
linked to the phones as the artefacts or container of important software such as games or personal data (SMS
messages, digital photos and videos etc.), has had an effect on the decision to keep them. There is some sort of
romantic or nostalgic valuation, which also can be observed from the perspective of personal histories of technology
usage (so-called technobiographies, autobiographical texts written by users and collected by researchers).
Valuing “old technologies” and some kind of digital cultural nostalgia are both generic and specific at the same time
(see e.g. Ackland 2007). For instance, those user groups and actors, who re-use old videogames and collect
hardware and software, emphasize reminiscence and digital nostalgia. In a wider sense, this phenomenon is part of a
digital retro-culture, called retro-gaming, and has been studied and considered as an emerging mega-trend in digital
game cultures (Newman 2005; Suominen 2008; Whalen & Taylor 2008). But how do people recollect their relationship
with digital technology, particularly digital games? How do they describe this relationship?
The presentation introduces forthcoming research project (2010–2012) called
“Second lives of a Computer”, especially in the context of retrogaming and digital
game nostalgia. The project examines values and cultural meanings of
information technology (both hardware and software) in processes in which IT
becomes outdated and obsolete. What types of individuals, groups, organizations
and institutions create, shape, and use these meanings? The project combines
research theories and methodologies from different perspectives: from cultural
heritage studies and cultural history, STS field as well as from media archaeology and media studies. Diverse
research material will be utilized as well: thematic interviews, online surveys (targeting primarily retrogamers, event
producers, museum staff, computer professionals and IT-journalists), participatory observation, recycled ICT-products
(including games and other software, computers and consoles, accessories etc.) and online material.
Ackland, Charles R. (edit.) (2007): /Residual Media. /University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London.
Newman, James (2005): /Videogames/. Routledge, London and New York.
Suominen, Jaakko (2008): “The Past as the Future? Nostalgia and Retrogaming in Digital Culture.” Fibreculture, issue
11 (digital arts and culture conference (perth) issue), 2008.
Whalen, Zach & Laurie N. Taylor (toim.) (2008). /Playing the past. History and nostalgia in video games. /Vanderbilt
University Press, Nashville.