Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transfigured Women Gamers: Understanding the Transformative Nature of Immersive Gameplay
by James, Jan E., M.A., University of Wyoming, 2018, 162; 10812767
Abstract (Summary)

The transformative potential of role-playing games and the impact of women gamers, over the age of 35, to the gaming industry, are explored in this thesis. EA/BioWare games such as Sims 4, Star Wars: The Old Republic , and series such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age are featured since these games give women gamers the freedom to challenge hegemony through exploration of gender, race, and sexuality. Feminist standpoint theory, cyberfeminism, a pilot study, and analytical autoethnography are used as theoretical and methodological tools of analysis to answer the central question: How, in a male dominated industry, does gaming provide agency to women gamers? The development of identity and agency in over 2000 hours of gameplay, and the rationale behind creating 29 avatars are examined. Autoethnographic methods are used to analyze gameplay and subsequently compared to several studies including: a 2017 pilot study, Cherie Todd’s 2009 study of women gamers; Lina Eklund’s 2011 study of female World of Warcraft (WoW) players; and Nicolas Ducheneaut, Ming-Hui “Don” Wen, Nicholas Yee, and Greg Wadley’s 2009 study of avatar personalization in three virtual worlds. More specifically, greater understanding of how playing video games impacts a woman’s life to challenge the assumption that cyberspace and gaming is a White, male-only domain is demonstrated. Free from the real-world confines of hegemony, this thesis demonstrated how role-playing gameplay facilitates the expression of self-identity, thus, benefitting women gamers long after they leave cyberspace.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Patton, Tracey O.
Commitee: Brown, Michael, Small, Nancy R.
School: University of Wyoming
Department: Communication & Journalism
School Location: United States -- Wyoming
Source: MAI 58/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Communication, Rhetoric
Keywords: Agency, Identity, Role-playing games, Transformation, Video games, Women
Publication Number: 10812767
ISBN: 978-0-438-53025-6
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