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Go out and Play: The construction of public game play in a Swedish context
Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för data- och systemvetenskap.
(English)In: Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, ISSN 1354-8565, E-ISSN 1748-7382Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This study explores how co-located computer game play in public is valued and constructed by mass media, parents, and staff in a Swedish context. The article argues that by viewing co-located game playing in public as a youth leisure activity, we can reach a fuller understanding of the norms and values surrounding computer game playing as a social phenomenon. Data was collected through interviews with parents and staff and by analyzing articles in Swedish newspapers. Findings show that newspaper reports on game cafés and LAN parties construct game playing as a sport or fun. These constructions reproduce gender stereotypes. Parents’ attitudes towards public game play are both positive and negative and constructed around themes such as problematic or non problematic game playing. Staff and parent discourses on game playing reflect a wider concern reading leisure and youth, such as activities young people should be engaged in at their leisure.

Keyword [en]
co-located game play, construction, norms, youth leisure, game café, LAN parties
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-20027OAI: diva2:659367
Available from: 2012-04-27 Created: 2013-10-25 Last updated: 2013-10-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Hanging out in the game café: Contextualising co-located computer game play practices and experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hanging out in the game café: Contextualising co-located computer game play practices and experiences
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

What social practices are people involved when staying in a game café? What kind of social setting is the game café? What are the attitudes towards playing computer games at home and in public among parents? What are the media representations of co-located game playing in public? What are the sensory experiences of playing co-located game play in public? This dissertation gives a descriptive and analytical account of the contexts and meanings of playing co-located computer games in public settings such as game cafés and LAN parties. The overall aim with the dissertation is to describe and investigate the social and cultural meanings and contexts of playing computer games in a game café. The research questions have been investigated in four empirical studies.

The dissertation shows that people are involved in various social practices and activities aimed at supporting and maintaining social relationships among friends and peers. The game café can be seen as a third place, as it used by players for recreation and an escape from the pressure of home and school, a place which feels like home, is familiar and welcoming. However the game café is a limited third place used by young men who likes to play online and network games. The dissertation also shows how the social environment provides for specific sensory experiences. These sensory experiences involve sitting together side by side slapping each other’s shoulders and legs, eating candies and drinking sodas, listening to music. The representations of co-located game playing in public reproduce traditional gender roles where professional gamers are represented by men and causal gamers are represented by women (and men) as well as construct youth as party lovers. The study also suggests that parents’ attitudes towards their children playing games in public draw on traditional values and ideas about children’s play and social relationships.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2012. 71 p.
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 12-007
co-located game play, Game café, LAN party, game play experiences, public settings, senses
National Category
Computer and Information Science Sociology
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-20026 (URN)978-91-7447-511-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-05-30, sal C, Forum 100, Isafjordsgatan 39, 13:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Submitted. 

Available from: 2013-10-25 Created: 2013-10-25 Last updated: 2014-12-05Bibliographically approved

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