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Asynchronous Transgressions: Suffering, Relief and Invasions in Nintendo’s Miiverse and Streetpass

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How is suffering, including frustration, anxiety, and even pain, a relevant part of play
and games? In this chapter, we discuss how play and games are deeply dependent on suffering and relief. We explore how players try to overcome communicative restrictions in quasi-social game spaces, defined by asynchronous interactions and parallel play, in order to maximize suffering and relief, both for themselves and for others. We demonstrate how players play with the suffering of others in a situation where they do not meet them directly or even have access to the consequences of their actions. To illustrate these quasi-social interactions, we focus on StreetPass and Miiverse, two Nintendo services with strong codes of conduct (CoC) to prevent transgressions.
Our discussion of suffering starts with two concepts, Roger Caillois’s ilinx and Jesper
Juul’s paradox of failure, and progresses to the Buddhist idea of duhkha . Duhkha, “thirst” or “dissatisfaction,” conceptualizes pain in a way that is both wide and specific, without making it neither ennobling nor sexualized, with a strong focus on the chain of causes and consequences that shape it. We have found five types of transgressive interactions in this study: ludic transgressions; tone transgressions; CoC transgressions (against rules, norms, codes, and agreements); strawman transgressions; and transgressions of liminality. These five types of transgression highlight not only that suffering and relief are part of the ludic and social construction of games but also that players can rebalance these two experiences for others even when they do not play together. At the heart of our theory of suffering and relief is the idea that play is about voluntary, purposeful suffering, frustration, and effort to which the player has chosen to submit and hence controls to a much larger extent than in other contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransgression in Games and Play
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationCambridge, MA
PublisherMIT Press
Publication date2019
Pages47-44
Chapter2
ISBN (Print)9780262038652
ISBN (Electronic)9780262348706
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 83922771