Hats of Affect – Moore

In this journal article Moore tackles the subject matter of Team Fortress 2 and how Valve uses hats or achievements as objects for steering player actions and creating value out of players. “The combined apparatus of the Steam software, in game achievements and hats (which have become marketing features) and the digital distribution platform is a means for capturing the activity of gamers that has much in common with technologies of work and labor.” The reading of gaming goals, or ‘affect’, from a critical perspective is an essential stance especially when widening this perspective to F2P games (Team Fortress 2 later became one). The goals in F2P games often involve some sort of monetary payment towards the developers and often these goals can run adversely to the playing experience so an exploration of non essential game mechanics such as this is essential.

Drawing on Gilbert’s (2004) use of the term affect and the semiotic relationship that affective aspects of games share with their players, Moore shows that the power relations between players and developers are still extremely wide as developers seek to implement aspects of a game for purely commercial goals. Moore makes a point of comparison to Walter Benjamins (1969) analysis of machines that was similarly critical of the underlying motives of their function by stating that the ‘machine’ is now expanded to cybernetic people that relies on their affective relationships with each other and the game. Developers treat people like machines as much as their game and seemingly it works when creating economic value.

250px-Towering_Pillar_of_Hats

Benjamin, W. (1969). Illuminations. New York. Shocken Books.

Gilbert, J. (2004). Signifying Nothing: ‘Culture,’ ‘Discourse’ and the Sociality of Affect. Culture Machine, Volume 6.

Available at: http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/view/8/7.

Moore, C. (2011) ‘Hats of Affect: A Study of Affect, Achievements and Hats in Team Fortress 2’, Games Studies, Volume 11.

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