What You See from These Survival Games is What Machines Get and Know: Squid Game, Surveillance Capitalism, and Platformized Spectatorship

Jihoon Kim


This study examines the Netflix original serial Squid Game in light of the interdisciplinary framework of critical digital media studies and platform studies. It identifies the show’s several key elements applied to the operation and management of the bloodthirsty games that it depicts, particularly the “Red Light, Green Light” game, in terms of what Shoshana Zuboff terms “surveillance capitalism,” the parasitic and self-referential capitalist system based on the apparatuses aimed to mine and commodify privatized data. Unveiling how these survival plays disguised as Korean traditional games give expression to how computers and artificial intelligences see and know, I also expand my textual operation of the elements into an underlying factor of the show’s global impact, namely, Netflix’s platformized spectatorship composed of its personalized recommendations based on its algorithmic data mining, its hyperspecific genre categories that influence the viewers’ selection of what they see, its enticing of binge-watching, and its technopsychic construction of voyeurism based on the viewers’ screen intimacy.


Squid Game, Netflix, platform studies, surveillance capitalism

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