Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6463-1117

Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Moving Image Studies

First Advisor

Ethan Tussey

Second Advisor

Jennifer Barker

Third Advisor

Jade Petermon

Fourth Advisor

Shira Chess

Abstract

This dissertation builds on the conversations being had within game studies addressing how digital games can enact change in the “real” or empirical world. Change done specifically through feminist and queer gaming processes, because of the precarity of this content in gaming, is of particular use to combat the rampant marginalization and toxicity of today’s gaming experience. I use Gerald Farca’s video game narrative analysis (VGN) to look at the digital games Life is Strange 2, The Stanley Parable, Outer Wilds, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Hue to explore feminist and queer game processes and mechanics. I examine how play, game procedures and mechanics, and players can connect and impact both play spaces and empirical spaces through the use of procedures and mechanics as evidence to the relationships among these game and player characteristics. I will be bridging a gap between conversations being had on the “outside” and “inside” of digital games regarding feminist and queer gaming. I map how game processes within these case studies point to how digital games, in a bigger sense, are reflective of contemporary societal and cultural issues that become part of the narratives and game worlds gamers engage with. Digital games contain a potential call to action for the player who is willing to see the argument within them. Examining these procedures and mechanics provides a space to push back on toxic gaming culture as well as misogynist patriarchal culture within the empirical world. Additionally, these procedures and mechanics are also the connection between game world and the empirical worlds. The included game analyses build this connection beyond the work done on representation and player demographics that feminist and queer game studies have focused on. Building up from these previous conversations pushes the radical and subversive potential of digital gaming in a new direction.

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