Media@Sydney: Esports and the Affective Power of Metrics
This talk will examine how the metrics often used to measure player performances in videogames also enable competitive logics of capitalism.
This talk will examine how the metrics often used to measure player performances in videogames also enable the competitive logics of capitalism and neoliberalism to circulate through esports cultures. Drawing on a case study of Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), the talk will critically consider how its gameplay metrics, like ‘actions-per-minute’, ‘match-making rank’ and ‘kills-deaths-assists’, reward neoliberal bodily performances. In particular, it will show how these metrics entangle players into discourses of ‘competitive uncertainty’ (Beer 2016 also see Davies, 2014) that require players to monitor, optimise and manage their performances to remain competitive within game’s market and the anxieties these induce. The talk will raise critical questions about the sophisticated means by which games increasingly survey, govern and affectively shape player practices whilst also drawing attention to the contradictions within neoliberal and hegemonic subject positions.
Dr. Tom Brock is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests include play, games and social theory. He has authored publications on esports, player skill, failure, labour and digital games consumption in peer-reviewed journals including, Games and Culture, Information, Communication and Society, Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds. He has also published widely on social theory in journals such as The Sociological Review, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour and the Journal of Critical Realism. Tom is the Reviews Editor of the Journal of Consumer Culture and has recently completed his latest book ‘Welcome to Social Theory’ which will be published by Sage early 2023.