Play up! Play up! And Play the Game!
School of Creative Communication, University of Canberra
Education and Arts
Communications and Multimedia
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : DP0211751
This paper is about LANing culture. For some, this is ‘gaming culture plus’ – for others, the games are the smokescreen for the BitTorrent sites, porn and illegal downloads. Either way, the LANing activity is a cultural choice overwhelmingly associated with young males and with the kind of commitment and technological dedication that was first recognised in Kidder’s (1981) work, The Soul of the New Machine. Alongside the passion for ‘pimping’ the machine – adding heat sinks, coolers, neon lights, high speed graphic cards etc – is the need to be doing all these things to excess. LANing is at its purest when it involves the negation (or postponement) of everyday life. Organised LANs, for example, are round the clock 26-hour techno-fests fuelled by full-sugar coke and cold fast food runs. It’s a badge of honour to fall asleep in a morning classroom because the night has been spent in a massively multiplayer online game. For all the value ascribed by contemporary society to technological prowess, creativity and digital literacy, the dissident uses of the LAN for copyright flouting and for trading porn and other illegitimate programming – and the implications of nocturnal engagement with the LANing world – means that kids that are into LANs tend also to be constructed as ‘playing up’. Thus the exhortation to ‘Play up! Play up! And play the game!’ is subverted to mean non-compliant behaviour consequent upon dedicated engagement with gaming culture.