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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Frag: An ethnographic examination of computer gaming culture and identity at LAN parties
by Young, Bryan-Mitchell, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 188; 3612176
Abstract (Summary)

Utilizing ethnographic methods, this work examines how attendees of computer gaming events held by the Gaming@IU club form a community which uses technology to bring people together rather than isolate them and analyzes the ways attendees perform a unique forms of Whiteness and "nerd masculinity." Known as LAN parties, these computer gaming events are social functions where approximately 200 participants collocate their computers and play videogames with and against each other for up to twenty-four hours straight. Drawing years of fieldwork, this work uses participant observation and in depth interviews to examine how this group uses the computer gaming events to create a third place away from work and school where friendships can be created and maintained.

Based on this data, I examine the ways in which the statements of the LAN party attendees draw on a discourse of racial colorblindness to avoid dealing with the overwhelming Whiteness of these events which is not reflective of the racial and ethnic diversity of the area. I show how an avoidance of discussion of Whiteness and a general inability to articulate their thoughts about race prevents the attendees from interrogating the role the LAN party's organization may play in the racial makeup of attendees.

Focusing on issues of sexual harassment within gaming, I also look at the ways in which the games played and the social norms of the LAN party encourage the performance of hegemonic masculinity while playing the videogames but allow the attendees to inhabit a more complicit form of masculinity which is not overtly sexist. I argue that by embracing non-normative masculinity outside the games but discouraging it within the games, the LAN party participants are professing openness and acceptance but are failing to live up to that ideal.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Goodman, Jane, Gray, Mary
Commitee: Lepselter, Susan, Sterling, Marvin
School: Indiana University
Department: Communication and Culture
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 75/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Communication, Mass communications
Keywords: Culture, Ethnography, Gaming, Lan party, Video games, Videogames
Publication Number: 3612176
ISBN: 978-1-303-73443-4
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