Worldbuilding in Feminist Game Studies: Toward a Methodology of Disruption
thesisposted on 10.06.2019 by Bianca Batti
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
This project engages in an intersectional and interdisciplinary tracing of the emerging field of feminist game studies and the epistemologies and methodologies that exist within this field. Through such tracing, this project asks—what are feminist game studies’ epistemological goals and frameworks? What methodologies can the field draw from in order to achieve these epistemological goals? Ultimately, this project argues that feminist game studies enacts an epistemology of feminist worldbuilding—that is, an inclusive, embodied, space-claiming mode of producing knowledge—and achieves this worldbuilding through methodologies of intersectional disruption in order to perform disruptive feminist interventions into video game culture.
In the first chapter of this project, I make use of a methodology of narrative autoethnography to discuss my experience with online harassment as an inroad into interrogating the bodies at risk in gaming spaces in order to make a case for the need for feminist interventions to disrupt the violent structures within video game culture. The second chapter traces the ways hegemonic, patriarchal frameworks in game studies epistemologically deprivilege material, representational analyses of bodies and culture in the study of games and, instead, argues for the implementation of intersectional approaches to video game culture. The third chapter maps the intersectional feminist methodologies that can be implemented in feminist game studies in order to perform generative and disruptive interventions into video game culture and build feminist worlds.
In the fourth chapter, I apply some of these methodologies of disruption to the alienation of mothers in the gaming industry’s workplace culture and representations of mothers in the games Among the Sleep and Horizon Zero Dawn in order to intervene into video game culture’s prejudicial attitudes regarding labor, mothers, and women. The final chapter continues my autoethnographic work through the connection of my experiences with online harassment to previous experiences with gendered violence and trauma in order to underscore the stakes of feminist game studies praxis. In all these ways, I argue that feminist game studies builds worlds by performing interventions into video game culture through intersectional and pluralistic methodologies of disruption, for such methodologies imagine new, inclusive models of existence and futurity in video game culture.