Dimensions of Identity in Games

A Review of Gaming at the Edge by Adrienne Shaw

I have never identified as a ‘gamer’. I transitioned from casual to serious player in the months just prior to the drastic increase of online harassment campaigns, and the fierce attacks against diversity that characterized them. The toxic, sexist rhetoric that spread across gaming communities seems to have tainted the label of ‘gamer’ in my eyes. Of course, this movement did not go unopposed, and the calls for increased representations of diversity in video games have been numerous and vehement. An essential addition to this conversation is Adrienne Shaw’s book Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture. Gaming at the Edge offers an ethnographic study that explores the ways members of marginalized groups engage with video games, how the ability to identify with the characters represented in games shapes this engagement, and argues that ongoing conversations about diversity in games should be reframed to account for the intersectional nature of identity. Continue Reading

Actually, It’s About Aca-Fandom

in Games Studies

Some people might respond to that last sentence and say that good scholarship requires discomfort. You should have to prove yourself in order to be accepted by the community. To be clear, I’m not arguing that I like fan studies because they have no standards. It’s just that the standards that fan studies sets are actually achievable. Fan scholars understand that you can’t possibly be a fan of everything that anyone is a fan of. Recent scholarship even makes the argument that as a fan of one thing you aren’t even expected to know everything about it. Zubernis and Larsen (and Jenkins) argue that defining a fan as someone who makes or collects things—as being active—denies the ways in which fans can participate by reading, by thinking, by sharing links (Zubernis and Larsen 16). There are as many ways to be a fan as there are fans. Continue Reading

On ‘Gamers’ And Identity

A First Person Scholar Highlight

First Person Scholar Highlights are a way for us to boost the visibility of the excellent games writing on the web. These are (in our humble opinion) timely, thought-provoking, and well-argued pieces that contribute significantly to the tenor and tone of existing games discourse. This inaugural Highlight is “On ‘Gamers’ and Identity,” a blog post (cross-posted, with permission, from Liz Ryerson’s excellent blog) that does an incredible job of navigating the personal in constellation with broader social and theoretical contexts surrounding the recent controversies in the videogame industry. If you enjoyed this commentary, please consider contributing to Liz’s Patreon. Continue Reading