Recent Submissions

  • "He could be a bunny rabbit for all I care": Exploring identification in digital games

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2011)
    Little empirical research has investigated how players identify with video game characters. In this paper, I use data from interviews with video game players who are members of marginalized groups, to interrogate the links made between how players identify with video game characters and the importance of representation. I discuss how games‟ ludic, bodily and socially interactive aspects result in players‟ being self-reflexive rather than identifying with the game characters/avatars; whereas narrative aspects of games help players identify with characters. Different types of games, moreover, shape the types of relationships players have with the onscreen characters. This paper looks at the links between how players identify with different kinds of video game characters, and concludes with the implications this has for arguments about the importance of the representation of marginalized groups in video games.
  • Beyond comparison: Reframing analysis of video games produced in the Middle East

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2010-06)
    Over the past decade, multiple video games have been produced in the Middle East. Some are the product of political groups (Special Forces) or individual creators (The Stone Throwers) while others are produced by game development companies like Afkar Media (UnderAsh, UnderSeige). The few academic articles on the subject (Galloway, 2004; Machin & Suleiman, 2006; Sisler, 2006) focus on these games primarily in comparison to games produced in the United States. This paper seeks to shift that focus. By first analyzing how this dichotomy is constructed in both popular and academic discourses and then using interviews with Arab gamers and game designers, I look at how we might rethink the study of representation in video games by localizing our focus on game design, content and play.
  • A critical approach to marginalized audiences and representation

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2013)
  • Talking to gaymers: Questioning identity, community and media representation

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2012-10)
    With few exceptions, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals are generally ignored in the realm of digital games. This ethnography of members of an online gay gamer, or gaymer, community allowed me to better understand their thoughts on LGBTQ representation in games, as well as the construction of the gaymer community. How gaymer identities are constructed, how this community is formed, and how its members discuss the representation of LGBTQ individuals in video games are discussed here. Gaymer identity was found to be more complex than the simple ‘homosexual gamer’ defi nition often used implies. Finding a space to express this identity was much more important to members than the invisibility of LGBTQ individuals in video game texts. The relative importance of in-game representation was tied to the context of play. The political implications of these findings are discussed in the conclusion of this article.
  • On not becoming gamers: Moving beyond the constructed audience

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2013-06)
  • Participations part 1: CREATIVITY

    Banet-Weiser, Sarah; Baym, Nancy K.; Coppa, Francesca; Gauntlett, David; Gray, Jonathan; Jenkins, Henry; Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2014-03-17)
  • The lost queer potential of Fable

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2013-10-16)
  • Five approaches to measuring engagement: comparisons by video game characteristics

    Martey, Rosa Mikeal; Kenski, Kate; Folkestad, James; Feldman, Laurie; Shaw, Adrienne; Stromer-Galley, Jennifer; Clegg, Ben; Gordis, Elana; Zhang, Hui; Kaufman, Nissim; Rabkin, Ari N.; Shaikh, Samira; Strzalkowski, Tomek; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2014-01)
    Engagement has been identified as a crucial component of learning in games research. However, the conceptualization and operationalization of engagement varies widely in the literature. Many valuable approaches illuminate ways in which presence, flow, arousal, participation and other concepts constitute or contribute to engagement. However, few studies examine multiple conceptualizations of engagement in the same project. This paper discusses the results of two experiments that measure engagement in five different ways: survey self-report, content analyses of player videos, electro-dermal activity, mouse movements, and game click logs. We examine the relationships among these measures and assess how they are affected by the technical characteristics of a 30 minute custom-built educational game: use of a customized character, level of narrative complexity, and level of art complexity. We found that the five measures of engagement correlated in limited ways, and that they revealed substantially different relationships with game characteristics. We conclude that engagement as a construct is more complex than is captured in any of these measures individually and that using multiple methods to assess engagement can illuminate aspects of engagement not detectable by a single method of measurement.
  • Testing the Power of Game Lessons: The Effects of Art and Narrative on Reducing Cognitive Biases

    Martey, Rosa Mikeal; Shaw, Adrienne; Stromer-Galley, Jennifer; Kenski, Kate; Clegg, Benjamin; Folkestad, James; Saulnier, Emilie T.; Strzalkowski, Tomek; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2014)
    Educational games have proliferated, but questions remain about the effectiveness at teaching both in the short- and long-term. Also unclear is whether particular game features have positive effects on learning. To examine these issues, this paper describes a controlled experiment using an educational game that was professionally developed to teach about cognitive biases in decision making (Fundamental Attribution Error, Confirmation Bias, and Bias Blind Spot). This experiment examined the effects of game art and narrative on learning and compared the game conditions to a training video. Effects were measured immediately after the stimuli were given and then again eight weeks later. Results indicate that the educational game outperforms the training video immediately after exposure and that there are significant retention effects. Art and narrative were not significantly related to learning with the exception that minimal art game had a significant positive relationship with mitigating Bias Blind Spot at immediate post-test.
  • Reflections on the casual games market in a post-GamerGate world

    Shaw, Adrienne; Chess, Shira; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2015)
  • Effective mitigation of anchoring bias, projection bias, and representativeness bias from serious game-based training

    Clegg, Benjamin A.; McKernan, Brian; Martey, Rosa M.; Taylor, Sarah M.; Stromer-Galley, Jennifer; Kenski, Kate; Saulnier, E. Tobi; Rhodes, Matthew G.; Folkestad, James E.; McLaren, Elizabeth; Shaw, Adrienne; Strzalkowski, Tomek; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2015)
    Although human use of heuristics can result in ‘fast and frugal’ decision-making, those prepotent tendencies can also impair our ability to make optimal choices. Previous work had suggested such cognitive biases are resistant to mitigation training. Serious games offer a method to incorporate desirable elements into a training experience, and allow the use of mechanisms that enhance learning and retention. We developed a game to train recognition and mitigation of three forms of cognitive bias: anchoring, a tendency to be inordinately influenced by one piece of information; projection, an implicit assumption that others think or know what you do; and representativeness, judging the likelihood of a hypothesis by how much the available data resembles it. Participants were randomly assigned to play the training game once, twice spaced by 10 to 12 days, or a control condition that used a training video. External questionnaire-based assessments were given immediately post-training and 12 weeks later. Superior training was seen from the game. An independent group using our training game with their own novel bias assessment instruments (to which the researchers and game-developers had no access or content information) validated the key finding. These results demonstrate the viability and high value of using serious computer games to train mitigation of cognitive biases.
  • Tyranny of realism: Historical accuracy and the politics of representation in Assassin’s Creed III

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2015-11-15)
    Like other games in its series, Assassin’s Creed III (AC3) is heavily invested in a wellresearched, nuanced representation of historical conflicts. Yet as with any historical text, designers must be selective in their storytelling. Through their choices, we can better understand who might be the expected audience for this “speculative fiction.” This article addresses AC3’s tensions around realism. In it, the author addresses the politics of representation in how players are asked to identify with particular characters (constructed identification), how the game was produced (constructed authenticity), and the version of history portrayed in the game (constructed history). The author argues that the game’s ludic and narrative possibilities limit its ability to critique colonial powers during the American Revolution. The article concludes by looking at what counterhistorical approach to AC3’s story might entail. Throughout, the author discusses how the game’s expected audience, that is Ubisoft’s construction of the intended player, is reflected in each of these decisions and limits the emancipatory possibilities of AC3.
  • Circles, charmed and magic: Queering game studies

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2015)
    Queer game content, players, and creators have been the focus of increasing academic attention over the past ten years. Queer theory, however, offers more to game studies than subject matter. Queer theory allows us to question the underlying assumptions of how games are studied. Moreover, games allow queer theorists to engage with the myriad ways in which subject positions are experienced and normative behaviors are codified. Bringing the two together, this article focuses on the so-called sad, solitary gamer as a key site for queer game studies to interrogate which forms of play are deemed valuable and which lie outside the charmed and magic circle of play.
  • A conversation: Queer digital media resources and research

    Fischer, Mia; Haimson, Oliver L.; Rios, Carmen; Shaw, Adrienne; Thakor, Mitali; Gieseking, Jen Jack; Cockayne, Daniel; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2018-07-01)
    The following is a panel discussion from QIS2 that in which five experts shared their research on queer media and technology. The panellists discuss a wide range of topics including trans people and surveillance online; trans identity and social media; online communities and feminist politics; the LGBT games archive; and digital vigilantism and sex trafficking. Uniting these diverse themes were a shared attention to the politics of queer visibility online that two of the editors of this special issue explore further in their opening comments.
  • Testing the power of game lessons: The effects of art style and narrative complexity on reducing cognitive bias

    Martey, Rosa Mikeal; Shaw, Adrienne; Stromer-Galley, Jennifer; Kenski, Kate; Clegg, Benjamin; Folkestad, James; Saulnier, Tobi; Strzalkowski, Tomek; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2017-04-14)
    Educational games have generated attention for their potential to teach more successfully and with longer-lasting outcomes than traditional teaching methods. Questions remain, however, about which features of games enhance learning. This study investigates the effects of art style and narrative complexity on training outcomes of a game designed to help players mitigate three cognitive biases. The training was effective and was retained eight weeks later, although differences in art style and narrative complexity did not affect overall learning. The games were also compared with an alternative training technique, a professionally produced video. Immediately after exposure, the games produced better training than the video on two of the biases; eight weeks later, the games produced better training than the video on one of the biases.
  • Where is the queerness in games?: Types of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer content in games

    Shaw, Adrienne; Friesem, Elizaveta; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2016-07-27)
    With increasing popular and academic attention being paid to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) content in video games, the time has come for a thorough account of the history of this content in this medium. In the project reviewed here, we have documented more than 300 games and more than 500 examples of LGBTQ content spanning 30 years. Using a grounded theoretical approach, we were able to classify this content into nine large categories—characters, relationships/romance/sex, actions, locations, mentions, artifacts, traits, queer games/narratives, and homophobia/transphobia—each of which contains several subcategories. In outlining our classification system here, we will demonstrate the myriad ways queerness in gender and sexuality have been integrated into digital games.
  • Representations of Queer Identity in Games from 2013–2015

    Cole, Alayna M.; Shaw, Adrienne; Zammit, Jessica; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2017)
  • Diversity without defense: Reframing arguments for diversity in games

    Shaw, Adrienne; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2017-07)
    Most media studies arguments for the representation of marginalized groups have focused on exploring why more diversity in cultural texts is important. Points that have been made encompass everything from claims of direct media effects to analyzing how trends in representation reinforce hegemonic norms. Because of this, we tend to only see diversity as being possible when a strong “good business sense” case can be made. In contrast, by treating diversity, rather than pluralism, as the expected norm, we can begin to think more creatively about representation beyond niche marketing and simplistic assumptions about what “good” and “bad” representations are.
  • Beyond Texts: Using queer readings to document LGBTQ game content

    Shaw, Adrienne; Persaud, Christopher J.; Shaw|0000-0001-5526-1839 (2020-08-03)
    Queer readings of texts allow audiences, queer or not, to see the possibility for queerness in media that does not explicitly name LGBTQ identities. At times these readings are intended by creators but they need not be, as audiences themselves help establish the queer potential of texts through their own reception practices. Studying queerly read content in media necessarily requires moving beyond a singular textual object, as authorship, fandom, and reception practices are all central to identifying queerly readable content in media. Yet scholarship on queerly reading digital game texts has largely relied upon close academic readings of the text itself. Drawing on our ongoing project documenting a large number of games with LGBTQ or queerly read content, herein we argue that given the unprecedented access to fan queer readings online communities make available, we can expand our methodological toolkit for documenting this content. Specifically, rather than considering fan queer readings as data to be analyzed on its own, we argue that these sources can be read alongside game content and producer statements as evidence of queerness in game texts. That is, by moving beyond the text, scholars can address a larger scope of queer reading practices as well as properly value fan work. We conclude that queer readings available in these spaces allow us to archive and preserve queer reception activities, but also allow fans actively shape the meaning of these texts.

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