INTERSECTIONS OF PLAY AT THE MARGINS: EXPERIENCES ACROSS GENDER, TEHNICITY AND SEXUALITY IN GAME CULTURE

Gabriela T. Richard

Abstract


Digital gaming, and the physical and virtual spaces formed around its play and engagement, has long been seen as male-dominated and marginalizing, especially for females. Most research that explores issues of equity and play is focuses on gendered imbalances. This line of research, which has spanned the past 30 years, was prompted by concerns that game-based subject matter wouldn’t be of interest to females, and their lack of access would lead to differential experience and confidence to pursue and engage with skills and competencies that computers and digital games fostered (e.g., Cassell & Jenkins, 1998; Kafai, Heeter, Denner & Sun, 2008; Searle & Kafai, 2009). However, some researchers criticized this line of research for stereotyping gender preferences (e.g., Carr, 2005; Dickey, 2006). Contemporary work is also demonstrating that females and males enjoy more things in common when it comes to gaming despite gender (Lazzaro, 2008; Yee, 2008).

Despite notable emerging work on experiences across race, ethnicity and sexuality (e.g., Gray, 2012; Richard, 2013; Shaw, 2012; Sunden & Sveningsson, 2012), there is still a lack of understanding of the nuance in marginalized play, particularly across intersecting sociocultural experiences. This paper discusses how gender and ethnic signifiers play similar and different roles in shaping play, as well as the tenuous role of negotiating homophobic norms in game space.


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