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Is Computer Gaming a Craft? Prehension, Practice and Puzzle-Solving in Gaming Labour

Brock, TGJ and Fraser, E (2018) Is Computer Gaming a Craft? Prehension, Practice and Puzzle-Solving in Gaming Labour. Information, Communication and Society, 21 (9). pp. 1219-1233. ISSN 1369-118X (In Press)

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Abstract

This article applies sociological theories of ‘craft’ to computer gaming practices to conceptualise the relationship between play, games and labour. Using the example of the game Dota 2, as both a competitive esport title and a complex game based around a shared practice, this article examines the conditions under which the play of a computer game can be considered a ‘craft’. In particular, through the concept of ‘prehension’, we dissect the gameplay activity of Dota 2, identifying similarities with how the hand practices craft labour. We identify these practices as ‘contact’, ‘apprehension’, ‘language acquisition’ and ‘reflection’. We argue that players develop these practices of the hand to make sense of the game’s rules and controls. From this perspective, it is the hand that initiates experiences of craft within computer gameplay, and we offer examples of player creativity and experimentation to evidence its labour. The article concludes with a discussion on the need for future research to examine the quality of gaming labour in the context of esports.

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