About The Sociology of Video Games

Welcome to the Sociology of Video games, a blog at the intersection of Sociology and Video Games.

Hey, why should I care?

Good question! Video games are emerging as staples in our everyday lives. Each year more Americans are playing games and as result we’re seeing video games make their way into aspects of our society that we never would have guessed they’d become apart of. From uses in medical rehabilitation to interviewing potential clients for a job, video games are being utilized in new and innovative ways each year.

But why Sociology, why not media studies or psychology?

Video Games are an immersive experience unlike any other form of media; they have the ability to connect us to people across the world, move us with amazing storytelling, and influence the way we look at the world. As such, video games shouldn’t be limited  to one academic discipline; each field has their own questions and concerns when evaluating the medium. Through sociology we can view video games as products of society that represent and mirror the societal changes we see in our on going lives. Not only that, but we can observe how video games are creating social change themselves, be it in the way they contribute to our socialization  or in the way they enable us to communicate with others. Video games are emerging along side the internet as the most important societal change in our generation, and as a result we new to adopt new analytical lens to view and study them.

Who are you to write about all of this?


You got a point there. My name is Ian Larson, a gamer and sociologist. I received my B.A at the University California, Berkeley, and my Masters of Sociology at San Diego State University. I am currently pursuing my PhD at the University of California, Irvine in the Informatics Department. My current research centers on class inequality in the medium, the reproduction of hegemonic norms in the gaming community, and expanding video game history to be more inclusive of communities at the gaming margins. If you want to know more, you can check out my CV right here. What you won’t find on my CV is that I received my education in gaming on a spot of carpet I rarely moved from for years.

A Few of My Recent Publications

Larson, Ian. 2022. Privileging the Past: Problematic and Gendered Rhetoric in Retrogaming Content. In FDG ’22: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 23, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1145/3555858.3555861

Grace, T., Larson, I.R., Salen-Tekinbas, K. 2022. Policies of Misconduct: A Content Analysis of Codes of Conduct for Online Multiplayer Games. CHI-Play Proceedings. https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3549513

Larson, Ian. 2022. The Bootleg Connection: Micro Genius and the Transnational Circulation of Early Clone Consoles. ROMchip. 4(1) https://romchip.org/index.php/romchip-journal/article/view/143

Cullen, A. L., Scully-Blaker, R., Larson, I. R., Brewster, K., Aceae, R. R., & Dunkel, W. (2022). Game studies, futurity, and necessity (or the game studies regarded as still to come). Critical Studies in Media Communication, 1-10. doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2022.2080845

Larson, Ian. 2021. Remaking Legitimacy in Final Fantasy VII. First Person Scholar. http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/remaking-legitimacy-in-final-fantasy-vii/

How Can I Get Involved?

The sociology of video games is still an emerging emphasis in sociology and as need additional voices! I’m happy to post or repost articles  that are relevant to the field so please send them my way. Blog, write, discuss!

How Can I Contact You? 

Drop me a comment on the blog or send me over a message. If you have an idea for a blog post, or would even like to contribute something yourself, please let me know! You can also tweet me at @Socialvideogame. Please, no carrier pigeons.

Please Like or Follow me on Twitter!twit


35 thoughts on “About The Sociology of Video Games”

  1. Hey there Ian, stumbled across your page and I think it is great! Although I am a Computing Science major, the sociology of video games has always been an interest of mine. Thanks for the great writing and looking forward to reading more!

  2. This page is excellent. I’m a sociology PhD student at Berkeley and an avid video game fan. It’s great to see an attempt to apply sociology to a growing medium that’s almost entirely ignored by our discipline. If you’re still in the Bay Area we should meet sometime. Keep it up!

    1. Hey thanks, I really appreciate your comment. Great to see someone else in our field interested in the two; I think there’s a great deal sociologists can learn from and study in the world of video games, and I’m sure one day we’ll see the discipline begin to catch up.

  3. Hey!! I’m Ana, i’m a sociology student from Mexico!! XD i’m working on a project regarding sociology of video games and i’ve found out we’re not the only ones looking into this topic!! So great to find your blog!

  4. Hey Ian, I found your blog tonight and think it is most excellent. I am an assistant professor of sociology and received my PhD last year studying social interaction in video games. My dream is to develop a ‘sociology of video games’ course. I’m easing into that now by teaching an intro sociology course focusing on visual culture, so in addition to games as sociological examples, I am also using film, television, and social media. Anyway, I am definitely going to keep up with you here!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment and support! It’s great to hear from those on the frontline of the subject matter! Any advice for someone starting the process of looking into graduate programs for the subject matter?

  5. Hey Ian, I’ve just had a peep at your blog and I must say it’s very good! I’m an anthropologist from the UK and I’m really quite interested in video games (both as a hobby and as an area of academic interest) so please keep up the great work, I’ll be checking in for more. I’d love to look at some similar stuff when my video game blog https://sandboxmodegamingblog.wordpress.com/ has grown a bit, maybe I could ask you to contribute a guest post in the future?

    1. Hi Joshua, thanks for the comment! Your blog looks like it’s off to a great start. I’d be willing to contribute something in the future. Anything specific you had in mind?

      1. No problem, and thank you 😀 That’s fantastic I really appreciate it, I’m not really looking for anything in specific I’m sure anything you decide to contribute would be great (but we’ll sort that out a bit further down the road), thanks again!

  6. Hi Ian,

    I started undergrad in computer science to make video games that were beneficial to society. I later switched to sociology when I was humbled to learn that I could not fix problems that I didn’t first understand. I am now in an interdisciplinary masters program and I hope to elevate sociology as a complimentary lever for the successful application of other disciplines such as computer science. Thank you for making me feel that my crazy ideas might one day be accepted. I look forward to engaging with you via the blog.


    1. Hi Derek,
      Thanks for the comment! I’m always glad to hear there’s others out there who believe video games can be used as tools for social change and betterment. Please share any research or finds you may come across!

  7. Cool site. Hi, I’m also one of the sociology grads, and also growing up with video games, and really interested in studying sociology of video games. From Malaysia.
    We do not have any video game course here though, so I’d love to further my study in master degree in sociology, and also in gaming course, to make a better society, and also, to quench my thirst for knowledge and curiosities. Lulz. I’m rooting for you!

    1. Glad you enjoy the site! Awesome to hear your studying this intersection between gaming and sociology yourself! Hopefully one day it’ll be a much bigger emphasis within sociology.

  8. Hi! I study sociology at Tehran University. I just wanted you to recommend me some books or articles about “sociology of games”. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mahdi! Thanks for reaching out. Good sociological books on Video games are often few and far between, but I have found some decent works. Here are a few to check out: “Social Exclusion, Power, and Video Game Play : New Research in Digital Media and Technology” put together by Lukács, András,Wright, J. Talmadge,Embrick, David G. is a great collection of essays by different researchers about varying areas in video games. Some have more psychology leanings, but a lot of them deal with sociological issues are several are done by sociologists and it’s a great book as a sort of survey for the sociology of video games. Other authors to look into are Jesper Juul and Ian Bogost. Both authors technically aren’t sociologists, but the issues and themes they write about are very pertinent and interesting to sociology. Hope that helps!

  9. Hi, it is a really interesting site, thanks for it. I’m an artist and a sociologist trying to develop a cross-field research between Spain and Latin America. Here you can find a video recording of my last conference @ Universidad Nacional de Colombia (in Spanish): https://archive.org/details/sociologiavideojuegos. It is a first attempt to develop a critical analysis research group in Colombia about videogames as culture and as creative practice. I hope you find it interesting and we can exchange opinions and works in the future. Best regards!

  10. Hi! I’m a sociology major at Illinois State University who has recently become interested in gaming and how it socializes people. I’m also interested in gaming and gender dynamics. I’ll have to take a look over the summer at the literature you’ve suggested, but I was wondering if we could keep in touch. I’m a junior hoping to graduate a year from now (spring 2018) and I’m trying to figure out how to pursue my interests. You’ve given me some hope! What kind of work have you been doing, and what do you plan to do with your studies?


    1. Hi Kamie! Thanks for reaching out. Glad to hear you’re interested in pursuing the sociology of gaming.

      You have some options for pursuing your interest, but in my personal experience I found that not having an advanced degree limited what I could do within the field. As such I’m currently in a graduate sociology program. Being in a graduate program has allowed me to focus on doing actual research, which has been great. So far the research projects I’ve worked on include a qualitative project about physical gaming spaces and people who create social events around local multiplayer, and I’m in the beginning phases of conducting a mixed methods project looking into social deviance in MMOs and how game developer implemented systems of punishments mirror normative societal systems. I’ve also worked on more theoretical papers about race and gender representation within the gaming industry using contemporary sociological theoretical lens. Being such a new field there’s really countless avenues you could do research on, so it’s really open to your specific interests. Let me know if you have any other questions or anything, always willing to help fellow academics on their path to researching the industry!

  11. Hey there, I am a student at Walter Murray Collegiate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I am currently doing an inquiry project about the effect of video games on youth and teenagers. I am wondering if you will be interested to have a conversation regarding this topic and help me out on my research. Thanks.

      1. Hi Ian, I have some questions and topics that I (and as an avid gamer myself) would like to discuss the various effect of video games on teenagers and some of the stereotypical beliefs and what I have already found on this topic (and most importantly your knowledge on this topic). (Maybe an interview or skype conversation, if that works for you.). I believe that you have access to my email and you can contact me there, thanks again.

      2. Hi Kyle,
        I actually don’t think I have your email (or at least I can’t find access to it here on the site). I’m open to a Skype interview, but my schedule is a little dodgy this coming week because of E3 and travel. Feel free to email me at Larsoni@uci.edu and we can set something up.

      3. Hey Ian I have sent you an e-mail a day or two ago and haven’t heard from you yet. While it is totally within reason that you are busy and haven’t had time to respond, and I have no intent on rushing you, but I just thought I’d let you know and provide you with my contact here (email kyleluohappy@gmail.com) in case that e-mail didn’t go through. Thanks.

  12. As a former anthropology major, I tend to view most experiences from the social norms/community viewpoint. I found this site looking for current information on Pokémon Go. Other than the early days of the positive social and physical aspects of the game, there isn’t much else out there. That I could find anyway. My concerns come from player boredom, bullying, and young people becoming obsessed with the game, to the extent recent college grads aren’t pursuing getting on with growing up in favor of gameplay. And the guilt associated with the lack of moving forward, and the creative tactics employed to keep playing the game, beyond reaching level 40.

    1. I apologize that this blog doesn’t go beyond the initial buzz around Pokemon Go, mainly due to my own personal interest falling out with the game. Given the sustained community, there’s definitely interesting aspects to how Niantic motivate players to continuously play and forge new social groups around the game. In regards to the obsession and guilt you mention, I haven’t seen any writing that specific looks at Pokemon Go, but there’s authors like Alfie Brown that have written about the cultural shift in the leisure aspect of gaming and how current trends of games focus in on remedial tasks that supplement and fortify greater power structures of work and capitalist ethic. We’re beginning to see the darkside of gamification.

  13. Hi Ian! I’m a journalist working on a story about masculinity in games and would love to set up an interview with you and pick your brain. My deadline is the end of May so let me know as soon as you can. You can reach me at skotDOTthayer(at)gmail.com.


  14. Oh my god, this is you?! We presented at the same session at SSS this year. You did the presentation about skins and skill and capitalism. I talked about using games to teach sociology, and a handful of us went out after and then to the board game night. I used to read your blog all the time!

    1. Hi David! Of course I remember you, I really enjoyed your presentation and hanging out at the happy hour and game night. I’m glad to hear you’ve found the blog! I unfortunately don’t post/keep it updated as much as I’d like (PhD work has taken first priority), but I’m always happy to hear it’s being used as a resource for others.

      1. Yes, the PhD consumes all. I hope your research is going well, and that it sparks a lot of blog post ideas that you can write when you get a minute! Your posts are always informative and insightful reads. See you at another conference soon, and let me know if I can ever be a resource. Have a good one!

  15. Absolutely love this. I have my MA in Soc, emphasized theory research. I am an avid MMO gamer, so I really get to see and think about all that applies.

  16. Hi! I’m a student at American River College and I’m in the Sociology Club. I’m looking for as much information on Video Games as they relate to Sociology for a topic in the club, and I was wondering if you could help! Could you email me at hostilecrayon@gmail.com? I’d love to see any papers or information you have, or even see if maybe you’d like to be a guest speaker at the club? Thank you.

  17. Excellent blog. Sociology undergrad from Australia dropping in to say thank you for the inspiration! Between you and Jason Schrier’s ‘Blood, Sweat and Pixels’ I reckon I’ve found my academic focus at last 🙂

  18. Hello there! Im a sociology undergrad from New Zealand. I felt like shit after dealing with toxic teammates then I thought about “are there sociological studies about video games?” Im glad I found your blog! It’s definitely an interesting area to investigate. Looking forward for more articles to read!

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