Book part:
Zwischen Pathologisierung und Enhancement: Formen der Medikalisierung digitaler Spiele

Author(s): Görgen, Arno

The term »medicalization« describes a process in which non-medical problems are explained and solved in medical terms. This often happens through the definition of disease categories. Medicalization as a multifactorial process leads to the pathologization of certain phenomena, to an associated expansion of social control and, in the context of the economization of medicine, to increased social inequality. The expansion of medical competence can take place as a primary medicalization on an institutional and structural level, or as a secondary medicalization on an epistemological level. The latter encompasses the circulation of all medical knowledge in society and (popular) culture. Digital games are also implemented into this medical structure of integration, on the one hand in the form of serious games as a medicalized technology and their use as therapeutic, diagnostic, educational or research tools. On the other hand, commercial games are secondarily medicalized, if they use medical semantics to plausibilize their narrative or game mechanics. Thirdly, games can critically question medicalization as a process and thus provide a normative commentary on problems of medicalization. The operationalization of the concept of medicalization for the analysis of digital games is carried out in the following steps: First, the concept of primary medicalization, its causes, characteristics and consequences are outlined. As a second step interfaces of media and cultural analysis regarding medicalization are identified in the context of the sociocultural circulation of medical knowledge (secondary medicalization). Thirdly, it will be shown to what extent one can speak of medicalization of digital games and which categories could form a meaningful analytical tool kit. Finally, by means of the games RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 (Rockstar Studios 2018) and SPIDER-MAN (Insomniac Games 2018), the elaborated aspects are applied in two brief qualitative analyses.

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Preferred Citation
Görgen, Arno: Zwischen Pathologisierung und Enhancement: Formen der Medikalisierung digitaler Spiele. In: Görgen, Arno;Simond, Stefan Heinrich: Krankheit in Digitalen Spielen. Interdisziplinäre Betrachtungen. Bielefeld: transcript 2020, S. 17-49. DOI:
 author = {Görgen, Arno},
 title = {Zwischen Pathologisierung und Enhancement: Formen der Medikalisierung digitaler Spiele},
 year = 2020,
 doi = "\url{}",
 editor = {Görgen, Arno and Simond, Stefan Heinrich},
 address = {Bielefeld},
 booktitle = {Krankheit in Digitalen Spielen. Interdisziplinäre Betrachtungen},
 pages = {17--49},
 publisher = {transcript},
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