When Playing Games Feels Like Work

13Sep09

What “work” means in the context of the media and creative industries, is a fascinating question. Often, work can be considered “play”, or at the very least it is sold that way to potential newcomers in such industries. “I cannot believe I am getting paid to do this” would be the perfect analogy to such a state of mind.

Interestingly, the same works the other way around – as for example Nick Yee has noted (in a 2006 essay on “The Labor of Fun” in the Games and Culture journal) about playing online games – where people feel guilty like they would feel about work when they have not spend time with their avatar for a while. As Yee writes, “the work that is being performed in video games is increasingly similar to the work performed in business corporations.”

Now comes another scholar – Lewis Pulsipher – who argues in an essay at Gamasutra (Sept.4, 2009): “Video games won’t be as widely accepted as film unless we find ways to allow participation by those who don’t want to be challenged by their entertainment, and who don’t want to have to work to be entertained.” In other words: playing some of the more advanced games that come out these days is just too much “work.”

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