Games as hard work

An article in the new journal Games and Culture argues that some computer games are transformed into work platforms with players often working at the games for as long as they work at their real jobs.

The Labor of Fun: How Video Games Blur the Boundaries of Work and Play by Nick Yee of Stanford University claims that “the work that is being performed in video games is increasingly similar to the work performed in business corporations”. For instance, he says that in Star Wars Galaxies, one game play option is manufacturing pharmaceuticals: “It takes about 3 to 6 weeks of normal game play to acquire the abilities and schematics to be competitive in the market, and the business operation thereafter requires daily time commitment.”

Yee quotes anecdotal evidence of gamers who found, for example, that :”It became a chore to play. I became defacto leader of a guild and it was too much. I wanted to get away from real life and politics and social etiquette followed me in!â€?

According to Yee, the average MMORPG player is 26 and spends 22 hours per week playing. See the results of his survey here. This suggests, however, that the disillusion he found amongst some game players is not widespread. (eg only 1.3% of people said they were having no fun with their current MMO)

He says “The central irony of MMORPGs is that they are advertised as worlds to escape to after coming home from work, but they too make us work and burn us out.”

Looks as if Games and Culture will be an interesting journal to watch. The publishers are offering free access to the first volume.

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