perception in co-located computer gaming
The study of computer gaming has risen as a field of study in
recent years, but although attempts have been made to move research
agendas from computer games to the practice of computer gaming
there is still a lack of empirical work concerning itself with the
how game playing gets accomplished in various contexts.
This paper takes as its focus the communicative practices that make
up multiple-party computer gaming in venues such as internet cafés
and LAN-parties. In these kinds of places, people (of varying ages)
gather to play computer games together. These games are usually
available for cooperative and competitive gaming online, but
something about these places make people come there to play
face-to-face with each other. The local forms of playing entails
for the player to involve him- or herself in a specific community
of practice (Lave & Wenger), including specialized (and to the
outsider highly esoteric) language games. This study explores the
semiotic resources (Goodwin, 2000) used in the language games of
concerted co-located gaming, providing an explication of the
ethnomethodology of computer game playing.
Video data was gathered during short term fieldwork in internet
cafés and a large LAN party. Cameras were set up so as to capture
both the participants- bodily actions as well as on-screen
activities, using single or multiple cameras. In total, around 15
hours of video data was recorded. Relevant parts were transcribed
using conventions of conversation analysis, adapted to be able to
capture the visual details of the interaction.
The semiotic resources utilized in co-located gaming include both
on-screen (-in-game-) and off-screen resources. The
contextual configuration of resources vary (Goodwin, 2000), but
interaction is typically comprised of both bodily actions
(gestures, posture and leaning) and computer based actions
(cursor-pointing, screen-scrolling, avatar movement and other
in-game abilities). Talk is intrinsically intertwined with the
gaming activity, providing an ongoing commentary and formulation by
the players and onlookers of their actions.
Results of the study indicate that the game is generally available
as a topical focus of the interaction. Players and onlookers may,
without any other specific conversational work being done, switch
topic to the current or future events on the screen. Even though
they may talk about things that are not part of the game, the
on-screen activities are central to the interaction in the way that
they are always available as a next possible topic. Such
topic-switches can take the form of short response-cries (Aarsand
& Aronsson, 2007) or of lengthier stretches of interaction.
These topic-switches are interesting as they provide insights into
what the participants demonstrate as being -locally
relevant- or -noticeable features- of the gaming.
Thus, the participants- topical foci may be used in order to
explore the -professional vision- (Goodwin, 1994) of
gaming, making language, perception and action in co-located
computer gaming understandable as fundamentally associated
Aarsand, P. & Aronsson, K. (2007/accepted). Response cries and
other gaming moves: Building intersubjectivity in gaming. Journal
Goodwin, C. (2000).Action and Embodiment Within Situated Human
Interaction. Journal of Pragmatics 32: 1489-522.
Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional Vision. American Anthropologist
Lave, J & Wenger E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate
Peripheral Participation, Cambridge: Cambridge University