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(2009 - 2013)

What attracts gamers to games, and what sustains their interest? How do they understand themselves and their experiences with respect to conflicting representations in popular culture?

Digital gaming is not only a popular leisure activity in South Korea; it is also big business. But gaming and gamers are represented in conflicting ways in relation to Korea's economy and society: On the one hand, professional e-sports are among the most popular spectator sports in the country and pro-gamers enjoy "rock star" status, but on the other

Intel e-Stadium and PC bang, Sindorim (Seoul)

hand, politicians, doctors, and advocacy groups have raised concerns about games contributing to antisocial behavior and unhealthy lifestyles, specifically around the idea of game “addiction.”


I successfully won competitive grants for a three-month pilot study in the summer of 2009 and a year of ethnographic fieldwork between 2012 and 2013. 


I decided that participant observation—combining contextual inquiry and task analysis—combined with interviewing would be the most effective approach because it would allow me to compare what gamers told me they did with what I observed them doing. By participating alongside them, I was also able to gain greater empathy for their experiences and build stronger relationships, which encouraged them to reveal more to me in conversations and to invite me to participate in more activities.


I recruited participants through "snowball sampling" and by reaching out directly via email to schedule meetings. I wanted to get 

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