Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Libby Miles

Abstract

This study looks at the tensions surrounding the inclusion and increasing presence of LGBT performances within video games, their surrounding industry and culture, and their related internetworked cyberspaces – an assemblage referred to in this research as the “game-sphere.” By analyzing the rhetorical activity performed within a specific LGBT game cyberspace (the Reddit subforum r/gaymers), this study offers insight into gaming and LGBT culture by answering the following research question: What rhetorical action is performed by LGBT video game players within r/gaymers? Data were collected over a period of two weeks, wherein screen-captures were taken and saved twice a day at 10:00 am and pm. These screen-captures consisted of 1) the front page of the subforum, 2) the “direct thread” multi-media images that were hyperlinked to the threads' titles, and 3) the discussions page of each unique thread. 543 unique threads were captured in this method. In order to organize and analyze the data, three theoretical frameworks – networks, queertext, and games – were employed in order to frame r/gaymers in terms of their rhetorical acts of transformation, resistance, and play, respectively. These actions were selected for in data collection, as they represented significant rhetorical exigencies concerned with each LGBT, writing, and game perspectives. Many of these transformations, resistances and play-acts reflect the current landscape of LGBT gaming. This study concludes that these rhetorics negotiate current tensions between heteronormative and queer ideologies, including the gendering of LBGT cyberspaces, the hypersexualization of bodies within their own discourse, the perceptions of “queer” representations present in both Japanese and western games, and the evolving discourse on contemporary gay performativity.

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