This talk will look at the hardware, software, and video games of post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) from the 1980s through the 2000s with a focus on non-normative uses and aesthetics. Topics include programmers using games politically during the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the influx of Nintendo Famicom-cloned consoles and pirated games throughout post-Communist Europe, and a look at contemporary titles from Russian developers maligned as obtuse, confusing, and ugly. What emerges, through the examination of archival images from CEE gaming magazines, anecdotes from Russian gamers, and analysis of game aesthetics, is a two-pronged approach of not only how social, political, and economic forces shape technology in the CEE, but also how software and hardware production influences contemporary culture.
James Anaipakos is a writer and designer living in New York City. His work focuses on user interactions, the history of software, and contemporary technology. More of his work can be found at jamesanaipakos.com