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Play Globally, Act Locally: The Standardization of Pro Halo 3 Gaming

Nicholas T Taylor


This paper draws from an audio-visual ethnography of a North American community of competitive Halo 3 players, documenting the similarities in players’ embodied and verbal performances of professional gaming, across local, national and international events. I demonstrate that mapping the material landscapes of an emergent ‘e-Sports’ industry in North America is central to understanding the highly constrained gender subjectivities associated with and performed through competitive video game play. Applying actor-network theory to an analysis of the technological infrastructure common to each e-Sports event I attended, I show how elite team-based Halo 3 gaming becomes homogenized and standardized through the collective work (and play) of actors both human and non-human, virtual and material. This approach provides a methodological means for identifying and accounting for continuities and similarities across disparate contexts, linkages made possible by a shared apparatus for networked, co-situated competitive gaming. One of the effects of this apparatus is to bring young and predominantly male bodies together in close proximity, eliciting embodied performances of competitive digital play that are at once hyper-masculinized and deeply homosocial.


e-Sports; Halo; gender; World Cyber Games; Major League Gaming

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