Supplementary Material

Calibrating Play: Sociotemporality in South Korean Digital Gaming Culture

By Stephen C. Rea

ABSTRACT This article examines the significance of digital gaming culture amidst broader institutional transformations in South Korea over the past several decades. Digital gaming is contextualized by a popular narrative about Korean society “speeding up” and complementary sociotemporal expectations for being and acting that stress qualities of both quickness and endurance. Approaching digital gaming’s virtual- and actual-world sites as nested “taskscapes,” I contend that calibration—processes that bring phenomena across different taskscapes into correspondence with one another—best describes how Korean digital gamers align their individual, embodied play with sociotemporal expectations. Specifically, I analyze two digital gaming practices in their ethnographic contexts—an e-sports performance metric called “actions per minute” (APM), and an online gaming activity known as nogada—as modes for calibrating play with dominant sociotemporalities. The contrast between quick and slow sociotemporalities and the necessity of continual recalibration across taskscapes is a source of unending stress and frustration for many Koreans. Thinking with play as a disposition for calibration helps to make sense of everyday strategies for making do in precarious circumstances. [digital games, temporality, play, South Korea]


A gamer displaying high “actions per minute” (APM), described by Stephen Rea as one way of calibrating to South Korean demands for quick sociotemporalities.

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