Mothers, Play and Everyday Life: Ethnology Meets Game Studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article should serve as an introduction to a relatively new topic in ethnological studies requiring very specific methods as it involves both offline and online research as well as material objects and immaterial practices. How do we embark on an interdisciplinary venture such as this, and be sure to produce qualitative research of high standard? How should gaming mothers best be studied?
In what follows we try to answer that question. We also assume that not all of our readers are extensively familiar with games and game culture or have engaged with computer games first-hand or as scientific object of study. We thus begin with a short assessment of its current status as a growing genre, whose image is changing as gamers and game culture become increasingly diversified. We also briefly situate games as an academic subject and outline some of the central concepts focused in the fieldii called Game Studies. Furthermore, understanding the ideological underpinnings of play is vital to understanding the contexts in which games and gaming exist because they constitute some of the fundamental conditions of games research. To explain this, we relate the ambiguous status of game/play to the usage of the term ―the magic circle‖ and of historically ingrained rhetorics [sic] of play.
In our survey of the theoretical land, we notice an increasing attention among games researchers to players in addition to the games themselves. We thus assert that ethnologists have a particular methodological edge and a role to fulfill as games research more and more means studying games in relation to gamers, society and political economy and not only the game itself. As part of a huge industry that is a significant economic driver, games take center stage on a global sociocultural and capital market. Educational programs and cross-disciplinary efforts centered on games and gaming grow steadily. Introducing our research project ―Gaming Moms‖ we explain why it is interesting – and now possible and highly apposite – to study gaming from the perspective of culture, the family and the everyday. We give our rendition of how to best study a particular category of players such as mothers and why a marriage between ethnology and the interdisciplinary field of Game Studies is necessary and useful. In doing so, we give specific examples from our ongoing project thus presenting a selection of the various methods we apply in our research. Our examples are chosen around two themes – gaming and time management and representations of mothers in the context of gaming. We conclude with a brief discussion of our findings, having thus proposed an answer to our methodological question, and outline some missing perspectives and future challenges.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ethnology


  • ethnographic-method, ethnography, everyday culture, everyday life, female-gamers, game-time, representation, Time, Computer games
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-41
JournalEthnologia Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Total downloads

No data available

Related projects

View all (1)