Fighting games and Go: Exploring the aesthetics of play in professional gaming

Johnson, Mark R. and Woodcock, Jamie (2017). Fighting games and Go: Exploring the aesthetics of play in professional gaming. Thesis Eleven, 138(1) pp. 26–45.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0725513616689399

Abstract

This paper examines the varied cultural meanings of computer game play in competitive and professional computer gaming and live-streaming. To do so it riffs off Andrew Feenberg’s 1994 work exploring the changing meanings of the ancient board game of Go in mid-century Japan. We argue that whereas Go saw a de-aestheticization with the growth of newspaper reporting and a new breed of ‘westernized’ player, the rise of professionalized computer gameplay has upset this trend, causing a re-aestheticization of professional game competition as a result of the many informal elements that contribute to the successes, and public perceptions, of professional players. In doing so we open up the consideration of the aesthetics of broadcasted gameplay, how they reflect back upon the players and the game, and locate this shift historically and culturally within the last two decades of computer games as a creative industry, entertainment industry, a media form, and as an embodied practice.

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