Gaming Interaction : Conversations and Competencies in Internet Cafés

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The dissertation analyzes interaction in adolescents’ computer gaming. Through the use of video recordings in internet cafés, players’ communicative practices are illuminated. Ethnomethodological and interaction analytical perspectives are used to explicate the participants’ methods for meaning-making in the gaming. The aim of the thesis is to investigate how this co-located interaction sets conditions for game playing as a social activity. The dissertation contains four empirical studies. The first addresses the semiotic resources that the players use in collaborative gaming. It shows how gaming activities involve configurations of semiotic resources that are only available in co-located gaming, such as pointing at the screen or rotating your body towards coplayers. In the second study, the players’ use of so called professional vision is analyzed. Experienced players instruct and discipline a novice’s vision by demonstrating how the interface is connected to the rules of the game. In situations with two experienced players, visual aspects of the game can be used to question other players’ competence, by pointing out, for example, what should be visible to them. The visual aspects of the game are thereby made relevant by the players when one of them has acted contrary to conventional practice. The third study addresses the strategies that players use for highlighting their own competence and questioning their coplayers’. In this way the players create local hierarchies, and in the community of practice in internet cafés there are clear elements of exclusion and competiveness. In the final study the relevance of blame for the gaming practices is examined. Blame is used both for highlighting the player’s own competence, at the expense of another player’s, and for enabling a joint analysis “game exegesis”, in which the causal structures of the gaming are examined by the players. The dissertation shows how a player’s competence is constituted out of action both on the screen and in the gamers’ joint, co-located interactions. Their possibilities for positioning themselves in the social community of gaming are conditioned, not only by their in-game skills, but also by their ability to use the communicative resources that the co-located gaming affords.

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