Meaningful Play 2016 at Michigan State University

Paper Information

TitleThis game is not for me: Non-participation in EVE Online
Presenter(s)Kelly Bergstrom
SessionDesign and Play Together
TimeThursday, October 20, 11:00a-12:00p
LocationMSU Room
FormatPaper Presentation
DescriptionWhen not played for profit (e.g. professional e-sports, competitive tournaments, goldfarming, etc.) digital games are typically considered to be leisure activities. This in turn usually leads to playing or not playing typically being viewed as an autonomous choice motivated by individual preferences for how one spends their time not occupied by work or domestic obligations. This idea of an unfettered choice of games and absolute freedom to play has been complicated by studies using a critical feminist lens to illustrate how social forces continue to write digital gameplay as a primarily heterosexual white masculine space outside of a very narrow definition of games deemed “acceptable” for female play (Chess, 2010; Jenson & de Castell, 2008). While a growing body of interventionist literature documents new entry points for girls and women into traditionally masculine play spaces (Gray, 2012; Jenson, Fisher, & de Castell, 2011; Kafai, 2008) or making games of their own (Fisher & Harvey, 2013; Harvey & Fisher, 2013; Harvey & Shepherd, 2016), these investigations are primarily focused on current game players. What is less understood is how current players came to their particular game(s) of choice, and their reasons for not playing other games. Using the space-themed Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) EVE Online as a case study and an analytical framework provided by the long history of investigations into and theorizing of barriers and constraints to participation by leisure scholars (Crawford, Jackson, & Godbey, 1991; Henderson & Gibson, 2013), I argue for the importance of accounting for non-players in the study of digital games.
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