In my research on self-defined Gamers, it is interesting that one participant describes gaming in a virtual space with such physicality. When I ask him why he spends the most time playing his least of three favorite games, he responds using words that describe real space. When he knows he will be playing a game that takes a large amount of time, he says he has to sit down. But, I assume he has to sit down for any game. He also describes the time it takes to play these games as a block, which indicates to me foresight and self-regulation, that he has to make plans in order to play these games. These are spatially relative terms he uses when talking about something that doesn’t actually take up space. It leads me to believe he has prioritized his engagements, based on previous deleterious experiences, and that he has a mental model of how all of his priorities fit together.
D: With Torch Light and Star Craft, the reason I have to spend so much time playing them is that one game of Star Craft takes twenty minutes, so that every time I play it, I have to sit down, and it takes twenty minutes, at least. I can go up to an hour. So… I have that block of time in order to play it.
Because he says sit down, I interpret this as a moment for him to sit down cognitively; He makes space in his busy life (he is taking six classes) to only think about the game. He carves out blocks of cognitive space. Because he uses the phrase block of time, I am led to believe he has spent time reflecting on his life priorities, and that he sees time as liner and physical. He carves out blocks of time.
B: And which one did you say you do grinding in?
(Grinding describes the process of engaging in repetitive tasks in order to advance in a game.)
D: Torch Light II, so… I can spend ten minutes on it, but it doesn’t help me to just spend ten minutes on it. I only really get progress if I spend three or four hours on it. It takes so much time compared to everything else!
B: And it is worth it to you?
D: Yea! It’s fun! Um, ’cause I’m playing with my friends!
And, here lies the motivation. He wants to be with friends. These friendships come at a cost, however, because he isn’t just interacting with friends casually. He must make great investments, paying with cognitive and temporal space, in order to use gaming to mediate friendships. And… there is the juice of why he plays! He uses gaming as a tool for socialization, but it is costly. He must pay for it with blocks of cognition and blocks of time.