Video gaming as practical accomplishment: ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, and play

Reeves, Stuart, Greiffenhagen, Christian and Laurier, Eric (2017) Video gaming as practical accomplishment: ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, and play. Topics in Cognitive Science, 9 (2). pp. 308-342. ISSN 1756-8765

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Accounts of video game play developed from an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic perspective remain relatively scarce. This paper collects together a scattered but emerging body of research which does just this—drawing upon the orientations of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis (EMCA) in order to explicate video gaming practices: or put differently, the material, practical 'work practices' of video game players. In picking out the shape of this emerging body work, the paper offers an example-driven explication of an EMCA perspective on video game play phenomena as sites of social order. Data fragments from a series of exemplars from this literature are drawn upon throughout in order to do this. Our material is arranged as a 'tactical zoom'. We start very much 'outside' the game, beginning with a wide view of how massive-multiplayer online games are played within dedicated gaming spaces; here we find multiple players, machines and many different sorts of activities going on (besides playing the game). Still remaining somewhat distanced from the play of the game itself, we then take a closer look at the players themselves by examining a notionally simpler setting involving a pairs taking part in a football game at a games console. As we draw closer to the technical details of play, we narrow our focus further still to examine a player and spectator situated 'at the screen' but jointly analysing play as the player competes in an online first-person shooter. Finally we go 'inside' the game entirely and look at the conduct of avatars on-screen via screen recordings of a massively-multiplayer online game. Having worked through examples, we provide an elaboration of a selection of core topics of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis that are used to situate some of the unstated orientations in the presentation of data fragments; in this way recurrent issues raised in the fragments are shown as coherent, interconnected phenomena. In closing, we suggest caution regarding the way game play phenomena have been analysed in the paper, while remarking on challenges present for the development of further EMCA oriented research on video game play.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ethnomethodology, Conversation analysis, Video games
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Reeves, Stuart
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2017 14:28
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:43

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