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I'm a gamer. I play video games. But unlike many gamers, I play only one game. So, I guess I should say 'I play video game.' I've dabbled around in others, but mostly it's just the one. I play Team Fortress 2 (TF2, for short), created by Valve. I bought this game a few years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. But, you know, I'm not addicted. I could quit any time.

I continue to be amazed at how it keeps my attention over time. In fairness, I was enabled in this time-sucking pursuit by an unlikely conspirator: my academic adviser, Coye Cheshire (also a closet gamer). As it happens, being directed towards this particular game was fortunate given my areas of research. For someone who studies online collaboration, social psychological incentives, and computer-mediated communication, TF2 is like a giant sandbox with one of those amazing lever-operated wooden backhoes. Engaging deeply with TF2 has convinced me of these things, which I hope also to convince you of:

  1. Valve is brilliant. Team Fortress 2 is brilliant.
  2. With respect to incentives and community management, Team Fortress 2 is the most socially advanced game of its type.
  3. TF2 should be a model for designing and implementing effective incentives for online participation.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to post on a variety of topics and, I hope, 100% convince you of these statements.