Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


The Virtual Hand: Exploring the Societal Effects of Video Game Industry Business Models

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Media and Communication

First Advisor

Oliver Boyd-Barrett (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Radhika Gajjala (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sung-Yeon Park (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Savilla Banister (Committee Member)


The purpose of this study was threefold. The first goal was to investigate the evolution of business models within the video game industry with a specific focus on the console segment within the United States and including Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony as the three largest console manufacturers. The second goal was to examine the connections between these business models and practices of planned obsolescence. The third goal was to determine the connections between the business models in use and any associated externalities. Externalities of particular interest included effects related to violence, gender, race, military connections, and the environment. Political economy served as both theory and method. Results showed that past business models have heavily relied on a cycle of production and consumption that contributes to a culture of overconsumption and regularly produces and reproduces both positive and negative externalities that are not accounted for as a cost of doing business despite the effects borne by society.