Experts at Play Understanding Skilled Expertise

Stuart Reeves, Barry Brown, Eric Laurier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developing from David Sudnow's accounts of expertise, this article examines the gameplay of Counter-Strike, a popular online game. Although Counter-Strike at first may seem an unsophisticated pursuit, players display remarkable dexterity developed through many hours of play. Through participating in the game and analyzing videos of gameplay, we examine Counter-Strike as an example of expert technology use. As players move beyond the mere physical prowess of chaining their movements with the environment, they develop a sense of the terrain of play as a contingent tactically oriented understanding, rather than as static spatial knowledge. Relatedly, we provide the beginnings of an alternative account of both games and expertise which brings out something of what it is to play a specific game, as opposed to games in general. Moreover, rather than presenting a disengaged general model of skill, the article considers how we might access and describe the situated skills of gameplay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-227
Number of pages23
JournalGames and culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • ethnomethodology
  • phenomenology
  • expertise
  • Counter-Strike
  • interaction

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