A core tenet of traditional play theories is that play is voluntary. This view has been troubled by recent empirical phenomena of "instrumental play" and "playbour": instances where play is mandatory, has serious consequences attached or is done as gainful labour, such as goldfarming. Similarly, people are increasingly using game design elements in non-game contexts like work to make them more playful and engaging. This talk suggests that the conceptual troubles of playbour and gamification can be resolved by focusing on autonomy as a psychological state: how much autonomy people experience informs whether they understand and a label an activity as "work(-like)" or "play(ful)". Drawing on a qualitative interview study with participants engaging in instrumental play, the talk will tease out how social and material features of gaming and work situations support and thwart autonomy experience and thus, their understanding as "work" or "play."