Andrei Zanescu

Research interests

  • Valve
  • Steam Market
  • Political Economy
  • Hegemony
  • Cultural Production

Dota 2: The Most Played Game on Steam.

The goal of this research project is to theorize how players instrumentalize their play as labour in DOTA 2, and the role that gambling systems and practices play in these practices. Furthermore, this project aims to reconceptualise gambling as a phenomenon that is not necessarily tied to fiscal winnings, as much as the activity of wagering and the social gains provided by game affordances and subcultures born in these spaces.

Key findings:

  • DOTA 2 exists as a hybrid gambling and gaming system that mobilized affect, gamer capital, fiscal capital and online communities in order to produce a new infrastructure in which players instrumentalize themselves and peers in pursuit of various rewards.
  • The Steam Marketplace exists as a transnational corporate system that mobilizes players in ways that far outstrip current governance models.
  • Valve as a corporation is highly blackboxed and eludes big data analysis models.
  • All Valve intellectual properties exist in a continuum of market model development.
  • Valve is involved, yet also eludes criticism derived from participation in the “Loot Box”, freemium development model.
  • Children and minors are not protected from these market structures.
  • Longitudinal ethnography has shown a progressive increase in the monetary value and scale of the DOTA 2 competitive scene.

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