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Surpassing the dreams of 68, the control economy, protocol society, The Cave (call it what you like as the differences, while important, are nonetheless not my concern here), takes over everything, becomes everything and brings everything into itself. Appropriation is the name of the game within control society; making everything into a game is apart of the game. Whether you like it or not is not the point. The real point is that there is no outside to the game. You play it or you play it, whats important is that you do it not how you feel. Your work is organized such that even though you have no choice but to work you have the kind of impotent freedom which grants you a bit of enjoyment. In this way The Game, the cave, control/capture society, become more and more like a game without relinquishing its status of work.

Quite unlike games you must work to survive. “You try going back and forth clicking the same thing for 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, then you will see if it’s a game or not, (Games of Empire, 144)” Even so, people find enjoyment and even fulfillment in this same kind of work. The evolution of capital and of power then is not an elimination of exploitation as such, but a massaging and disavowal of feelings of alienation from all segments of work. “exploitation is entangled with empowerment and productivity is entangled with pleasure. (Games of Empire, 144)” Gamification is a limited example of this phenomenon. Exploitation and coercion can become massaged into fun, freedom, democracy, whatever you like. Freedom under protocol and freedom within games is always a freedom within certain constraints. Economic freedom is the choice of what products to buy, which of course is a far ways away from the freedom of how to live one’s life overall or even the freedom to not exist within the game, the cave, capture society, or whatever.

Fulfilling but inverting the wishes of folks like Debord, “do what you like, capture real freedom, go beyond the workplace” becomes a simultaneous dissolution of the workplace and its taking over of everything in supposedly diluted form. Much the same way you dissolve aspirin in water. Control society is continuous, diluted, everywhere at once. Play, work, break time, fun time, work time, all fuse together into a continuous time. On the one hand then is the alienated advanced capitalist worker in the imperialist west who becomes all-time-fun-time lover-gamer. We saw the precursor to this evolution in the way Navajo Women were treated in the Nakamura reading. What time isn’t spent making wealth for theirself is made making wealth for others and all this wealth is but a labor of love, a marker of happiness. You can work from home on one monitor and play WOW on another. For other workers elsewhere the flow of capital requires other tasks which, while managed differently reinforce and allow the ~~””playbor””~~ of the advanced capitalist worker in the imperial west. Something else to consider then is to further Liang’s discussion of porous legalities and the figures which in globalized state capitalism both stabilize and destabilize the system, the migrant, the pirate, the hacker, the alien, and the squatter. The gold-farmer appears as another of these figures of seepage, the widespread vitriol for gold farmers and demand for their products is evidence of their status at the boundaries of legality within this system, part migrant part hacker. What other figures emerge from the detritus of this system’s grinding circulation? And considering the rate of technological innovation and the advancement of mediums and forms, What figures are bound to pop up in the coming years?

As an addendum to this it is important to note, as was noted in lecture, that the fun one might have doing their gamified work is not simply false consciousness. It isnt that we just dont know what we’re doing and so we’re falling for capitalism attempts to mask exploitation. The scarier and harsher truth is that being exploited has never been more fun. Something else harsh to consider perhaps is if empowerment and exploitation are intrinsically linked within capital, and there is no outside to capital, then is reformism the only viable path for the late capitalist leftist? To put it another way, is the exploitation and violence of capital inescapable? And if so, what at all do those most hurt and exploited by this system have to look forward to?

Victor Bramble