The uncredited: Work, women, and the making of the U.S. computer game industry

Laine Nooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the fall of 1980, the remote, rural Gold Rush town of Oakhurst, California, became home to Sierra On-Line, a computer game manufacturer that emerged as one of the most successful and iconic game companies of the 1980s and 1990s. Forty years later, Sierra On-Line is long gone from Oakhurst, but its operational and labor infrastructure remain strangely present - a civic palimpsest composed of repurposed buildings, regional archives, local memorials, and the frayingmemories of its citizens. This article explores the undocumented dimensions of the computer game industry's supply chain during the final decades of the twentieth century, focusing on the emotional labor and maintenance work involved in sales, customer service, and technical support. Unfolding in three scenes - each pinned to a financial crash, each oriented to the experience of a different female employee - the article traces the material and affective networks that made gaming possible and computers thinkable as machines of everyday life in the late twentieth-century United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-146
Number of pages28
JournalFeminist Media Histories
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Keywords

  • Computer games
  • Industry studies
  • Labor history
  • Sierra On-Line
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • History

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