It looks like for the foreseeable future my Friday nights will be spent playing Counter-Strike. All in all, there are worse things I could be doing. I like CS a lot. What I’m going is some ethnography on a group of guys (and they are guys) who play CS in a lab on campus on a regular basis.
Of course, I’m not just playing, but observing, and interviewing people. That is where it gets interesting. I’ve turned my hobby into a job. I know that I’m not the first to observe this, but interesting things happen when you turn your hobby into a job. As I said, I like Counter-Strike. And it is fun to play with other people face to face. I’m new to this university, so it is nice to meet some folks outside my department as well. However, because I’m studying these people (and myself just as much) it isn’t just fun and games, but it is work. Playing Counter-Strike on Friday nights is a job.
Certainly, I haven’t got a lot to complain about. As a graduate student, I am getting paid to play videogames and hang out with people. However, the dynamic is different now that this is for an external purpose — that is my dissertation and the ethnography class I am currently taking. A group of my friends were getting together to play some cards that same night and I couldn’t because I had to go observe people. So of course when I did stop by the card game around midnight (I know, I left the gaming early!) the first thing I told them was that I would have been there earlier, but I was out doing original research and I didn’t have time to sit around all night and play silly games.
Well, I thought it was funny. But it points out that taking on this project means that I have to make some (however small) sacrifices.
My point in this is not to complain. I know I’m pretty lucky. It is as a warning. Think about it before you turn your hobby into a job because when you do, it changes things. in four years (hopefully!) when I finish this dissertation, I certainly hope that I won’t be burned out on playing videogames. Of course if I am, that will just be another chapter for the dissertation, “How Studying Videogame Players Made Me Burn Out and Never Want to Play another Videogame Ever Again.”