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New Projects Seminar Series: European Gaming Culture: the Case of Gamers Identity

Oleg Dietkow, GSSR PhD candidate

June 1, 2021, 13:00, Staszic Palace, Nowy Świat 72, Warsaw, room 232


The goal of this chapter is to demonstrate the influence of gaming culture on the players and wider society. These players create their culture and interact virtually – in their own communal and international groups that are separated yet influenced and shaped by the real-world culture. With events such as Gamergate (Nagle, 2017) demonstrating a connection between online gaming and political movements, it has become more important than ever to study what, how and why people gather in online gaming spaces. What was once considered a hobby has become a lifestyle and a counterculture shaped by digital logic. The main reason that has led to the growth of gaming and the establishment of a virtual community into a culture is the growth of loneliness and social isolation in Western society. Staying at home for long periods of time – something once alienating – has now evolved into a lifestyle where one is able to interact with the whole world and socialise with others. Games in this social landscape became akin to local community centres, places of social gatherings where bored and lonely people could meet others and play together. The key argument I support is that gaming has an internalised way of viewing and interacting with the world – gamification and gamefulness. Gamification is seen as a technology of power, a way of encouraging people to spend money, invest effort in work and engage with others on terms that suit those in power (in the game or in real life). With an understanding of gamification and its proposed counterpart, gamefulness, it is possible to comprehend how gaming movements think and act. I hypothesise that these two modes of engaging with a game are a strong determinant of why someone will become involved with videogames. For gamification, the main reasons become prestige, gratification and, to some extent, domination of others, while gameful players will focus on connections with others, new experiences and the general idea of fun. The division between gratification and fun stems from the difference in design and the internalisation of said design by the player. Gamification encourages gratification, while gamefulness encourages fun. With the use of gamification, I will explain how certain behaviours, such as trolling, are actually gameful entertainment, with other people being treated as mere NPCs (non-player characters in video games). The focus will be primarily on English speaking websites and content – with an emphasis on 4chan, Reddit, Twitch, YouTube and Discord.

Event supported by NAWA Welcome to Poland.