How do teens define what it means to be a gamer? Mapping teens’ video game practices and cultural imaginaries from a gender and sociocultural perspective

Júlia Vilasís-Pamos*, Fernanda Pires

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This study analyses how gender and socioeconomic characteristics permeate teens’ discourses when they define what it means to be a gamer. Video games have become a reference framework for teenagers, in which gaming practices may be important parts of their identity and social context. In addition, many teens see gaming as a professional possibility. This study provides five new gamer categories based on data from four focus groups carried out in Spain with teens from 12 to 16 years old. The ‘escapist-gamer’ and the ‘ashamed-gamer’ categories are based on teens’ gaming practices, and the ‘celebrity-platform-gamer’, the ‘professional-gamer’ and the ‘poser-gamer’ are based on the adolescents’ cultural imaginaries and aspirations. These categories demonstrate that certain male game practices are explicit, while female game practices are silenced. Moreover, sociodemographic characteristics complexify inequalities further, resulting in a struggle against normative models of femininity and masculinity, and determining teens’ aspirations and conceptions of the video game world. Thus, the gamer categories exemplify how video games are currently playing a pivotal role in forging unequal gender and social identities. And, at the same time, these categories show how teens struggle against heteronormative values associated with the game industry.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Communication and Society
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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