gaming enthusiasm

Over on rock, paper, shotgun, which is a blog “run by people who somehow make a living by writing about PC games” Jim Rossignol writes about the new Steam games bundle being released, A Steam-Powered Orange. As he notes it is ‘scary’ to see a games developer release three new games on the same day. What caught my eye was this line about the third game in the bundle, Portal:

One of the reasons I’m excited about Portal is I think it’s an example of a games company accessing what’s most vital about gaming: the enthusiasm for weirdness and difference that you find in habitual gamers.

Habit is normally thought of something like an aquired instinct that allows the human perceptual apparatus to learn how to engage and participant in a given social milieu. The habitus is the term that various philosophers and social scientists use to talk about the structurating structure of ‘contracted sensation’. Defining the gamer habitus in terms of an enthusiasm is precisely how I define the habitus of enthusiasts within modified-car culture. Rossignol takes it a step further and frames it in terms of the relation between the capacity of a developer to assess this enthusiasm and service it in a certain kind of way. Games developers would therefore be the key social institutions in the cultural industry of gaming, if gaming is defined by the enthusiasm of gamers, because what is at stake in the enthusiasm is the production of a durable infrastructure. What interests me are the power relations of such an infrastructure and who has control over what. The composition of these power relations — organised around the enthusiasm — is the dispositif of an enthusiasm, or scene. There are many other ways gamer enthusiasm is harnessed by the cultural industry, mainly in terms of the leisure-time labour of gamers and modding.