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The Meaning of Time in Casual Farming Games

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My presentation for Central and Eastern European Game Studies Conference (CEEGS) in Lublin in 2016.

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The Meaning of Time in Casual Farming Games

  1. 1. The Meaning of Time in Casual Farming Games Alesja Serada European Humanities University Visual Culture & Creative Industries
  2. 2. Two Viewpoints on Casual Farming Games 1. Silly people kill time by clicking cows. (…And they are not even gamers!..) (…And they are being exploited by greedy and immoral developers!..) 2. Dedicated players exchange their time for the value they recognize, as an alternative to spending this time on even less rewarding (digital) labor. (…And many of them enjoy it a lot.)
  3. 3. Time vs. Labor vs. Value Marx: time →labor →value “Capital” (1867) Lukacs: time →labor→space “History and Class Consciousness” (1923) Bourdieu: time →cultural meaning →symbolic value →social capital “The Logic of Practice” (1980) “Capital is accumulated labor” “Forms of Capital” (1986)
  4. 4. This Is Casual!
  5. 5. The Structure of a Farming Game
  6. 6. Crop Growth Time
  7. 7. Player vs. Developer • Has the right to leave the game at any moment. • Judges ‘fairness’ of the game • Chooses between paying and ‘earning’ rewards • Gains social capital by working and/or paying • Constructs engagement (years ahead) • Controls the progress of the player • “Sparks desire” • Capitalizes on the gamer’s social capital • Is doomed by the need for “endless content” Games as a Service:
  8. 8. A High Level Game Quest
  9. 9. Commodities • Time-based commodities • The player buys “condensed labor” • The player could just pay someone else to play for him/her. • Desire-based commodities • The player buys “objects of prestige” • The player could do without these objects (but they are so desirable!..)
  10. 10. Game Economy • MMO RPGs: open economy • There is space for free market • Auction-based (or demand-based) pricing • Frequent crises that are managed post-factum • “Digital sweatshops” (Gallaway) • Free-to-play games: “plan economy” • Platform limitations: the player can only buy from the developer • All prices are set by the developer, and they are fixed • Controlled inflation to monetize the game • Lesser financial risks on both sides
  11. 11. Takeaway • The player's time is discrete and quantified, and the process of its fragmentation turns the player's time into value. • There is time-based capital accumulation for non-paying players and demand-based pricing economy for paying players. • “Soft” and “hard’ currencies are an instrument of estrangement of the player’s labor in favor of the developer.
  12. 12. Play vs. Labor: Has There Ever Been Any “Hard Line”? (Do we still trust Huizinga?)
  13. 13. Thank you! Feel free to ask me how to exploit people and take their money :) alesja.serada@gmail.com @snavidna

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