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The daily grind: when playing turns into work

Jennie Lees

There's an interesting back-and-forth discussion over at Terra Nova on the subject of gameplay and labour; as the boundaries between work and play become blurred, what are the issues and where will the trend lead?

Unless you're a pro gamer or gold farmer, playing games is unlikely to net you any real-world salary, and yet many of us log into MMOs to continue our "daily grind". A serious commitment to World of Warcraft, for example, can leave one with a raid schedule more gruelling than a day job. The boundary blurs elsewhere, too, when you carry out a complicated task in-game that you couldn't do in real life.

The difference is that by playing a game, you have control over what you do, rather than relinquishing the reins to an employer. Perhaps this will lead to higher self-employment and entrepreneurship amongst gamers--certainly worlds like Second Life let you work in-game for real cash. A warning, though--once the game becomes a job, the roles may reverse, leaving real life as the fun distraction.

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