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Communication and Society
University of Oregon
Communication and Society
University of Oregon
Texas A&M University


My research focuses on the political economy of the video game industry. As a relatively new media industry, video games serve as an excellent example of the promises and challenges of new media, information economies, economic interventions intended to foster creative industry development, and emerging labor practices. Because it is focused on a critical political economic examination those areas, my research has grown to encompass questions of policy, cultural use and appropriation, international use and differences, and environmental impact. All of these areas, while often discussed as inevitable and deterministic, emerge out of particular choices in which history and context matter greatly. Just as importantly, the impact of these choices is felt differently by different parts of society. My research strives to use these examples to help better understand key ideas about the economy, policy, and society.

Scholarly Interests

  • Political Economy of Communications
  • Video Games and Entertainment Media Cultures
  • Communication and Mass Media Research
  • New Technology and Communications
  • New Media and Information Policy
  • Communications and Labor


  • TCOM 201: Media and Society
  • TCOM 254: Communication History
  • TCOM 320: Principles of Web Design
  • TCOM 353: Critical Approaches to Mass Communication
  • TCOM 380: Political Economy of the Media
  • TCOM 480: Critical Media Industry Studies
  • TCOM 481: Communication Regulation and Policy
Selected Publications

Nichols, R. (2024).  Nintendo:  Playing with Power.  New York:  Routledge.

Nichols, R. and G. Martinez (eds). (2019). The Political Economy of Media Industries: Global Transformations and Challenges. New York: Routledge.

Ruggill, J., McCallister, K., Nichols, R., and Kaufman, R. (2016). Inside the Video Games Industry: Game Developers Talk About the Business of Play. New York: Routledge.

Nichols, R. (2014) The Video Game Business, The International Screen Industries Series. P. McDonald and M. Curtin (series editors). London: Palgrave-McMillan.

Chapters and Journal Articles
Nichols, R.  (2023).  “Disruption through Distribution:  Impacts and Limits in the Global Video Game Industry” in A. Godulla and S. Böhm (eds).  Digital Disruption and Media Transformation: How Technological Innovation Shapes  the Future of Communication.  New York:  Springer.

Nichols, R. (2023).  “Oral History Timeline” Edit Media: Teaching Materials.

Nichols, R. (2021). “This is Gig Leisure:  Games, Gamification, and Gig Labor”  The Gig Economy: Workers and Media in the Age of Convergence.

Nichols, R. (2020).  “Video Game Product Proposal and Presentation”  Edit Media: Teaching Materials. 

Nichols, R. (2019). “Pokemon: Globalization” in M. Payne and N. Huntemann (Eds.) How to Play Video Games. New York: NYU Press.

McAllister, K.S.; Ruggill, J. E.; Conrad, T;, Conway, S.; deWinter, J.; Hanson, C.; Kocurek, C.; Moberly, K.; Nichols, R.; Nohr, R.F.; and Ouellette, M.A. (2016). “‘Apportioned Commodity Fetishism and the Transformative Power of Game Studies.” In Keri Duncan Valentine and Lucas John Jensen (Eds.) Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives.<.i> Hershey: IGI Global.

Nichols, R. (2015) “Curt Schilling’s Gold Coins: Questioning the 38 Studios Collapse in Light of Creative Industry Policy” in Steve Conway and Jennifer DeWinter (Eds) Video Game Policy: Production, Distribution, and Consumption. New York: Routledge.

DeWinter, J., Kocurek, C., and Nichols, R. (2014). “Taylorism 2.0: Gamification, Scientific Management, and the Capitalist Appropriation of Play” Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds 6(2).

Nichols, R. (2013). “Bourdieu’s Forms of Capital and Video Game Production.” In Jason Thompson and Marc Oulette (Eds.), Games Culture Reader. Newcastle on Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press

Nichols, R. (2013). “Who Pays, Who Plays? Mapping Video Game Production and Consumption Globally.” In Nina Huntemann and Ben Aslinger (Eds.), Gaming Globally: Production, Play and Place. Palgrave.

Nichols, R. (2011). Digitalization and Video Games. In Jörg Becker (Eds.), The Digitalisation of Mass Media and Culture (pp. 16). Brussels: Report to Lothar Bisky, Member of the European Parliament.

Nichols, R. (2009). “Target Acquired: 'America's Army' and the Political Economy of the Global Video Game Industry” in Joystick Soldiers: the Military/War Video Games Reader. N. Huntemann and M. Payne (eds). Routledge.

Nichols, R. (2008). “Ancillary markets: Merchandising and Video Games” in J. Wasko and P. McDonald (eds) The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry. London: Blackwell Publishers.

Nichols, R. (2005). “What Hath Wright Wrought: A Political Economic Context for the SimBrand” in Matteo Bittanti (Ed). SimCity. The Virtual Cities. Rome: EdizioniUnicopli, publishers.