How do we know whether something is “serious” or “just playing”? What difference does this make for our behaviour and experience? How is this difference accomplished? And what happens if it gets crossed or blurred? For several years now, game studies have tackled these questions under the moniker “magic circle” – and increasingly, employ sociology to answer them. In parallel, with media convergence, communication research increasingly encounters similar questions regard-ing the role of usage situations in defining what a medium “is”.
Erving Goffman's frame analysis is arguably one of the most well-established sociological approaches to understanding situational definitions and differences like play/non-play. However, until today, it has only found sparse and unsystematic reception both in game studies and communication research. Therefore, this thesis attempts to systematically deploy frame analysis as a sociological theory of video game play, to then empirically describe the characteristics, processes and structures of the framing of everyday video game play. The thesis specifically focuses on the role of technical artefacts in the constitution and reproduction of social framings.