Let’s not be Cultural Pessimists: The Social Construction of Nintendo’s Game Boy and the Need for Console-Specific Game Studies

Jesper Verhoef*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

In the 1990s, handheld game consoles, Nintendo’s Game Boy in particular, took the world by storm. By means of a grounded theory informed discourse analysis, this article examines the social construction of handhelds in Dutch media. After briefly sketching the immense popularity of Game Boys, particularly with children, it demonstrates that depictions of handhelds differed markedly from concurrent popular discourses about video games abroad as well as from Dutch discussions about the Walkman. Handhelds, and in their wake video gaming, did not cause moral panic in the Netherlands. To the contrary, they were met with a surprisingly moderate, unperturbed response. These findings, it is argued, call for a different approach to study popular discourses. Game histories should not presuppose that there was one public opinion about video games and gaming. Instead, we should be open to the possibility that different consoles elicited different reactions, which might have spilled over into the evaluation of gaming.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGame Studies
Volume23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Research programs

  • ESHCC HIS

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