The Emotional Labor of Social Interactions in Digital Play: Negotiating Play Performances
Given the anonymous nature of much of digital game playing, additional negotiations have to be performed often involving the supposed race, age, gender and sexuality of participants. Failed performances as well as successful ones can be the grounds from which intense discussions and heavily laden emotions are produced. This paper, drawing upon interview data and participant observations collected in the early 2000’s on the players of the first person shooter game Counter-Strike and later in 2008-2011 with players of an MMORPG, World of Warcraft, looks at these negotiations and asks how they have changed over time. The paper concludes by raising questions of how our theories of alienation may miss these struggles of participants and non-participants alike and how we may recast such theories giving more active agency to fans and on-lookers alike.