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The Sociality of Gaming: A mixed methods approach to understanding digital gaming as a social leisure activity
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is an exploration of the practice of social digital gaming, using a mixed methods approach with complementary data and analytical methods. The main themes are the prevalence and meaning of gamers’ experiences of social gaming and the underlying structures limiting or assisting social gaming, both material and social. Applying an everyday perspective, focus is on gamers’ day-to-day practices and experiences. Studies I and II enquire into relational aspects of social gaming based on interviews and survey data. Study III investigates the relationship between game design and gamer agency and its importance for social interaction with strangers, using in-game participant observation. Lastly in Study IV, building on interviews, female gamers come to the fore as their gender construction in an online game is examined with the aim of understanding the connection between online and offline.

The main result concerns how social gaming takes place in various social relations. How gaming comes to be―what it means―is dependent on the relations between gamers, be they family members, real life friends, Internet friends or strangers. In these interactions, gender and sexual identity are realized; in the relations between gamers, physical proximate or online. Finally, virtuality is shown to be a social accomplishment of the people engaging in games rather than a property of the games themselves.

Focus on the relational unveils how gaming comes to be in the process of interaction, a process at the same time dependent on underlying structures, i.e. games as designed platforms with certain affordances for social behaviour. We are able, thus, to reconcile the social constructivist position that (social) gaming is created in the relations between gamers engaging in games with the more formalist approach that games are rule based structures. Games create a foundation for interaction that can further develop into the creation/maintenance of relationships and identity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2012. , 71 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 56
Keyword [en]
Digital games, video games, computer games, online gaming, gender, sociality, social relationships, social interaction, everyday life, MMO, World of Warcraft
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83163ISBN: 978-91-87235-11-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-87235-12-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-83163DiVA: diva2:574218
Public defence
2013-01-11, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2012-12-20 Created: 2012-12-04 Last updated: 2016-05-27Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Mapping the landscape of social gaming: Social interaction in, through, and around digital games
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mapping the landscape of social gaming: Social interaction in, through, and around digital games
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Keyword
interpersonal relations, computer games, video games, relational, sociality
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83159 (URN)
Available from: 2012-12-04 Created: 2012-12-04 Last updated: 2012-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Investigating social gaming: digital game-play patterns
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Investigating social gaming: digital game-play patterns
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83160 (URN)
Available from: 2012-12-04 Created: 2012-12-04 Last updated: 2012-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Played and designed sociality in a massive multiplayer online game
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Played and designed sociality in a massive multiplayer online game
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83162 (URN)
Available from: 2012-12-04 Created: 2012-12-04 Last updated: 2012-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Doing Gender in Cyberspace: -the performance of gender by female World of Warcraft players
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Doing Gender in Cyberspace: -the performance of gender by female World of Warcraft players
2011 (English)In: Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, ISSN 1354-8565, E-ISSN 1748-7382, Vol. 17, no 3, 323-342 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This explorative study focuses on the performance of gender and sexuality in World of Warcraft (WoW), an online game, following Butler’s performance theory. Through interviews with female WoW players, gender and sexuality is analysed. The article argues that we cannot study gender online without also looking at sexuality. Gender performances are discussed within the framework of four themes: the avatar; strategies; sexuality, and the contextual importance of WoW. Results show that gender identity construction in WoW is an ongoing process highly dependent on the social context of play. The women interviewed created gendered and sexualized identities constrained and empowered by the rules of the game and the opportunities it offers as well as of their social relations. Although a heterosexual norm rules, there are possibilities hitherto unrecognized for queer performance within the gendered role play in WoW and the game offers the possibility of multiple and alternative performances of the self.

Keyword
gender identity, MMORPG, performative sexuality, social context, World of Warcraft
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65337 (URN)10.1177/1354856511406472 (DOI)
Projects
MMORPG - samhällsproblem eller framtidsliv?
Available from: 2011-12-07 Created: 2011-12-07 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved

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