Contemporary French Civilization

From skepticism to celebration: French football’s changing attitudes to videogames

Contemporary French Civilization (2019), 44, (1), 101–119.

Abstract

France’s major role in shaping the history of international football – both via the performances of its national teams and its role in organizing the sport – is mirrored by its importance within the development of videogames. However, videogames – like sport – remain an understudied aspect of French culture with French studies. This article explores significant debates about the cultural capital of videogames in France that feature contrasting reactions such as skepticism and celebration. It argues that interactions between football and videogames are increasingly blurring the boundary between the sport of football and the world of videogames. The world of e-sports (professional videogaming) will be shown to be a domain where leading French football teams and politicians are particularly keen to harness the cultural, economic, and political importance of videogames.

Le rôle majeur de la France dans l’histoire du football international – à la fois grâce aux performances de ses équipes internationales et son rôle dans l’organisation du sport – va de pair avec son importance dans le développement des jeux vidéo. Néanmoins, les jeux vidéo – tout comme le sport – manquent de visibilité dans les French studies. Cet article examine des débats importants sur l’importance culturelle des jeux vidéo en France où l’on voit souvent entre des réactions contrastées qui oscillent entre le scepticisme et la célébration. Nous verrons que les relations entre le football et les jeux vidéo rendent la frontière entre le football en tant que sport et le monde des jeux vidéo de moins en moins perceptible. On montrera notamment que les eSports constituent un domaine où les principales équipes de football françaises et les hommes politiques font preuve d’une volonté frappante de tirer profit de l’importance culturelle, économique, et politique des jeux vidéo.

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Author details

Ervine, Jonathan