Coordinating CS:GO teamplay as an emergent choreography - An ethnomethodological analysis

Activity: Talk or presentationConference presentation


This study investigates the video game play of a multiplayer first-person shooter, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as part of an esports programme at a vocational school. There is a need to better understand the social organisation of the interaction in online game environments from a participant’s perspective. Most ethnomethodological game studies focus on aspects around the screen and how the interplay between physically present players interact and draw upon resources both on- and off-screen. However, there are studies that have taken the participant perspective further and blur out the on-/off-screen dichotomy in an attempt to better understand on-screen actions as social actions worthy of studying per se. These studies, have found out that actions on-screen are organised and sequential in a similar manner as actions in everyday social settings are.

This paper presents preliminary results of analyses of several CS:GO matches being played by esports teams, in an attempt to understand how different forms of orderly actions, on-screen, are interwoven and interdepent as they coordinate the teamplay as part of situationally emergent tactics. The aim is to analyse how these actions are part of larger implicitly coordinated emergent sequences of choreography.

Central to this coordination are callouts, which are precise, timely verbal instructions of what is happening in the game. Most often they are English, known-in-common, words that refer to specific locations in the game map. Providing callouts is a context-dependent and situated practice that is also dependent on in-game on-screen actions, not only verbal communication. They are used to coordinate moving as a team and, in this paper, we explore how the emergent choreography of coordinating the team is enacted in-and-through situated strategic actions, which callouts are part of.

The analysis focuses on the ways participants deal with the projectability and contingencies of upcoming team and opponent actions. When players make their actions recognisable to others and achieve a mutual understanding of what is going on in a fast-paced FPS online multiplayer game, they employ collaborative practices, including callouts, to achieve success for their team. To be able to follow the emergent choreography, players appear to orient towards a collaborative and holistic perspective on the game. One needs to be able to read and understand the situations from the entire team’s perspective to be able to effectively provide and employ callouts. This requires analytic abilities to determine what and when to call something out to benefit the entire team. The investigated game play involves expertise on both an individual and distributed level. This expertise includes, among other, analytical abilities (reading the in-game situations), communication and collaboration (which information to provide when), languages (knowing and understanding English game-specific terminology), and problem solving (what to do with the information you receive).
Period2 Jun 2022
Event titleNERA: Nordic Educational Research Association : Education and involvement in precarious times
Event typeConference
LocationReykjavik, IcelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational