Hofstetter & Robles ICA: Metagaming

Hofstetter presented with Jessica Robles at the International Communication Association on “Metagaming and multiactivity: How board game players deal with progressivity.” The paper was awarded one of the Top Paper awards. Since the conference went digital, due to COVID-19, one can view the presentation here.

Abstract:

Games are often described as a special mode of interaction in which the ordinary rules and expectations of everyday life are temporarily put on hold. Most game researchers have examined (and sometimes challenged) this ‘magic circle’ through engagement with the theory, or by asking gamers about it. But little research has examined how players themselves treat actions as being inside or outside of ‘the game’ during the course of their actual gameplay. This paper presents an inductive analysis of face-to-face gameplay interactions in order to theorize, from players’ perspectives, a typology of activities that are ‘outside’ the game, focusing on what are called ‘metagame’ activities. We use conversation analysis–a rigorous method for analysing interaction–to inspect the detailed, embodied ways in which gamers switch between activities in the interactive context of tabletop board games. We show how players orient to the game’s ongoing progress while managing other concurrent activities.