GROWING UP GAMERS: FEMALE LEISURE IN DIGITAL GAMES CULTURE

Open Access
Author:
Orme, Stephanie Lyn
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 27, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Dr. Matthew McAllister , Dissertation Advisor
  • Dr. Matthew McAllister , Committee Chair
  • Dr. Michelle Rodino-Colocino , Committee Member
  • Dr. Patrick Parsons, Committee Member
  • Dr. Camilla Hodge, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • video games
  • digital games
  • gaming
  • gender
  • women
  • girls
  • motivations
  • genre
  • leisure
Abstract:
This dissertation explores possible explanations and complexities surrounding women’s relationship with leisure and video games. One of my objectives with this study is to understand how women players view their relationship with gaming: how they become involved with video games, how gaming fits into their adult lives (specifically, as wives, mothers, etc.), and the reasons they play games. Primarily, I am interested in how women’s reported experiences with games affirm or challenge dominant narratives about their experiences. After surveying more than 3,000 women players and conducting 21 follow-up interviews, I discuss trends in women’s video game play, including their genre and play style preferences, motivations for playing games, the extent that they consider themselves “gamers,” and how their relationships with gaming have evolved over the course of the lives. Specifically, I investigate how gendered constraints on women’s access to and enjoyment of leisure time influence the reported trends in women’s gaming experience. I argue that such trends, which are often framed as “natural” gender-based affinities for certain types of games or ways of experiencing games, might be influenced by broader social contexts such as gender socialization, the nature of women’s leisure time, constraints placed upon their play such as physical and virtual spaces that restrict access based on gender, and the ambivalent relationship many women players have with the games industry. Scholars interested in gender-based motivations and preferences in digital games should continue to explore the various constraints that are imposed on players of different gender identities. I believe the key to understanding the complexities of how gaming decisions are made relies on researchers’ ability to examine the interplay of multiple, sometimes competing constraints.