Nick Yee’s ‘Labor of Fun’

So…I’m still going on about the whole goldfarming thing in my thesis and I’m finding it kinda difficult to explain – who’d have thought?! Anyways…I started thinking that maybe what goldfarming companies really do is help gamers put the ‘fun’ back in MMORPGs. They help take away the ‘work factor’? You know, it would be really interesting to talk to someone who actually buys virtual currency and stuff, regularly! All the gamers, I know, are too faithful to the moral economy of their virtual gaming world to do so! I just think it would be interesting to see how passionate a regular consumer of goldfarming services is about the gameplay compared to someone who ‘works’ their way through the game – the hard way! But I’m sure someone is studying this! Probably the glorious Mr. Yee and his posse!
So yeah! What was I on about? Yeah…I wanted to describe in my thesis how a lot of the gameplay is really hard work and thought I’d hunt for a good quote from someone smarter than me and other than Castronova (he’s just already been quoted way too much!). So after being unsatisfied with the essays and books here at my desk I went online and found this beautiful little article by Glorious Nick Yee: “The Labor of Fun: How Video Games Blur The Boundaries of Work and Play”. I had a little huff and a puff when I started reading the words “Every day, millions of players log onto a genre of video games known as Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs).” – I mean! How many times do I have to read these words! I actually had to leave my computer and gather up the patience to read on. But guess what? He does it beautifully!!! He pretty much goes straight into explaining the commerce of Star Wars Galaxy! Pure joy! And since I’m not a SWG player – extremely interesting!!!
Here’s some highlights that I loved:

  • “The central irony of MMORPGs is that they are advertised as worlds to escape to after coming home from work, but they too make us work and burn us out. For some players, their game-play might be more stressful and demanding than their actual jobs. And the most tragic irony is the MMORPG players pay game companies on a monthly basis (between 10-15 USD) to work and get burned out.”

And then he, well…goes a little overboard in my opinion:

  • “The point remains however that video games are inherently work platforms that train us to become better workers. And the work bein performed in video games is increasingly similar to actual work in business corporations.”
  • “Beck and Wade (2004) suggested that the gamer generation is acquiring skills and developing traits that will require businesses to adapt to them, but I believe a much larger intersection is occurring. Video games are changing the nature of both work and play. It is not so much that businesses will need to adapt to gamers as much as that work and play are starting to become indistinguishable from each other.”

I think he takes it a little too far here! There definitely are distinctions between ‘play’ and ‘work’ – although it’s difficult to define! But yeah! A lot of gameplay is work and there’s a hell of a lot of obligations within the gameplay in MMORPGs (raids, economy…a.s.o) – so why do we choose to pay to work?

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