Female power fantasy: women and resistance in games and gamer culture

Mears, Tarnia (2021) Female power fantasy: women and resistance in games and gamer culture. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates digital gaming as a resistive act for female players. It argues that the ludic choices of women who play video games often work to push back against limiting expectations about their participation in gaming spaces. Their engagement with the gaming assemblage (encompassing the hobby, the community, the industry, and other aspects relating to ‘games culture’) offers many the opportunity to push back against restrictive hegemonic structures, both within the gaming assemblage itself, and in wider society. This is done through their play practices, their participation within the culture, and creations spawned from their own unique subject-positions, enabling them to resist conservative ideologies as well as tackle biological essentialism in games. Using multiple ethnographic approaches including a survey of 359 respondents and gaming interviews based on methods used by Schott & Horrell (2000), Shaw (2014), and Harvey (2015), this research centralises voices that often are pushed to the periphery of gaming spaces, to interrogate how female-identifying individuals situate their ludic practices within wider gamer culture.

Beginning with a contextualising literature review detailing the various barriers to play that women face within the gaming assemblage, this work moves on to analyse survey data in which respondents are asked to consider what a Female Power Fantasy within video games might look like. Respondents overwhelmingly cite their desire for more female video game characters that actively resist and counteract patriarchal practices within the gaming assemblage. This research then examines gaming interviews to identify how women utilise video games to practice identity fluidity – masking, altering, or broadcasting their identities either willingly or unwillingly – and in doing so either resist gendered identity categories, or utilise them to their advantage. Finally, it concludes with a look at ludic violence, asking participants about their violent practices within a medium well-known for its problematic depictions of violence against women and minorities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2022 10:26
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2022 10:26
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/86003
DOI:

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