Theorycrafting. Knowledge Production and Surveillance

K. Wenz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article investigates theorycrafting, a cultural practice of gaming communities, to analyse the differences in participation, knowledge production and dissemination and to show the effect that this has on the community itself. Theorycrafting describes a process of reverse engineering, a process of extracting design blue prints' to understand a technology better, whose design is not accessible. The design' not accessible in this case is the game algorithm. The concept of scientification of gameplay is used to highlight the scientific approach of theorycrafters to their gameplay. Their scientific' approach is described by using Aristotle's concepts episteme, techne and phronesis. His concepts have been chosen as they help us to analyse the different layers of the meaning of theory' in theorycrafting. This article investigates which understanding of theory and science is central in the practice of theorycrafting. How is a specific concept of science part of mechanisms of participatory surveillance? Theorycrafting can be understood as the desire of players to gain control over the game and share this knowledge with other players. The production of knowledge for the community leads to formulas that are used to improve playing skills, but through the spread of add-ons and forms of social control, it can also be described as a tool for surveillance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
JournalInformation, communication and society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • gaming community
  • sousveillance
  • surveillance
  • theorycrafting
  • user participation


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