català | castellano | english home   sitemap   contacte  
home home

Doctoral studies > PhD dissertations UAB

Ignasi Medà Calvet
Development, spreading and socio-cultural impact of 8-bit vídeo games in Spain (1983-1992)
Supervisor/s: Carlos Tabernero Holgado
Date of defense: 09-03-2018

This thesis contributes a multifaceted and exhaustive historical account of the emergence and subsequent diffusion and circulation of 8-bit video games in Spain between 1983 and 1992, a period known, in this sense, as the “Golden Age of Spanish software”. In doing so, it problematizes the claims that have hitherto sustained a flat and one-dimensional view of this period, a perspective built essentially around the experiences of the first companies and programmers of the sector who designed and commercialized the first computer games. By focusing on probing people’s uses and practices with and around technology in their different everyday contexts, this thesis shows that a larger diversity of actors, processes and spaces than those usually pointed out were actually involved in the development of the video games sector in Spain. Such development of this industrial and technological sector concurred, in that particular context and period, with key processes of negotiation concerning the implementation, diffusion and control of computing technology in a wide range of contexts: the public administration, universities, schools, hospitals, factories, laboratories, offices and also households. The public debates around the so-called IT Revolution that was also taking place in other countries encouraged the State’s will to take a leading role these processes under the pretext of considering widespread computerization as the only way to modernize the country. In this way, computing and electronic technologies were deemed as one of the key elements to achieve the economic development of the country, even more with regards to its then impending entry in the European Economic Community in 1986. At the same time, the State pondered the need to carry out actions and initiatives aimed at familiarizing citizens with computing and the use of the first home computers as educational and work tools. In those years, it was typically publicized that the country’s computerization would lead to a radical transformation of the productive and work sectors; therefore, the public administration stressed the need for people to acquire the new skills linked to the computing sector in order to have the chance to land a steady job in the future. In this respect, the public sector considered Spanish people as a mass society of individuals ignorant of the computing field and thus in need of instruction allowing them to usefully operate computers. However, this thesis also reveals an initially unexpected active agency on the part of the first computing users and enthusiasts. Given the access and the possibility to tinker and experiment what could be done with the first computers, these users started circulating certain kinds of knowledge and practices that did not match the “serious” usages at first associated with computing. As a result, the use of computers as entertainment technologies fostered alternative consumption practices related to the computing sector that in the end permeated society at large.