Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Over the past decade, a new identity has emerged within gaming and gay communities. This identity, Gaymer (Gay-gamer), incorporates elements from both gaming and gay communities, but is accepted by neither. This thesis asks how the interplay of actual and virtual worlds have shaped Gaymer identities, and further asks what the relationship between Gaymers and both the gay and gaming communities are; what elements are conducive to the formation of Gaymer communities; how Gaymers work with or around affordances to assert their identities in virtual and actual spaces; and to what degree representation, either within games as playable characters or within the industry as game producers, is important to Gaymers. These are answered through the use of ethnographic methods such as participant observation at monthly meet-ups of Houston Gaymers, semi-structured interviews, and formal interviews, as well as informal polls and analysis of posts in two Facebook groups, autoethnography, and analysis of message board archives. After identifying gaps in the academic literature of gay gamers, the thesis focuses on the hostility the gaming community often shows towards Gaymers and how representation within games has been problematic. This thesis makes a recommendation to game developers that producing games that allow for sexual ambiguity of characters is an effective way to improve inclusivity. Next, the relationship between Gaymers and the gay community is examined. This includes a discussion of how a convergence of consumer culture, new technologies such as readily accessible pornography and dating apps, and homonormativity have resulted in hegemonic homosexuality, which excludes Gaymers through contradictory sexual scripts. Finally, an examination of both sexual fields theory and videoludification is used to show how Gaymers are actively blurring the lines between virtual and actual worlds, creating a community of their own.

Committee Chair

Rahder, Micha

Available for download on Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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