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Roger Caillois and e-Sports: On the Problems of Treating Play as Work

Brock, TGJ (2017) Roger Caillois and e-Sports: On the Problems of Treating Play as Work. Games and Culture. ISSN 1555-4120

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Abstract

In Man, Play and Games, Roger Caillois warns against the “rationalization” of play by working life and argues that the professionalization of competitive games (agôn) will have a negative impact on people and society. In this article, I elaborate on Caillois’ argument by suggesting that the professional context of electronic sports (e-Sports) rationalizes play by turning player psychology toward the pursuit of extrinsic rewards. This is evidenced in the instrumental decision-making that accompanies competitive gameplay as well as the “survival” strategies that e-Sports players deploy to endure its precarious working environment(s). In both cases, play is treated as work and has problematic psychological and sociological implications as a result.

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