Research Aims and Objectives
The aim of my research is to discover some of the core facets of online gaming. Following the early days of a new online videogame, Final Fantasy XIV, it is possible to experience the growth of a new online community first-hand. At the core of the research lies the fascinating area of gender performance in online spaces. Players from across the globe create embodied, gendered avatars in new game spaces, creating seemingly stable yet constantly reiterated identities. The actions and speech of gamers create a gendered avatar, whose body is sexed by the player at the outset. Offline life still shapes the experiences of online play and the intersection of age, 'race' and class need to be taken into account. A dynamic approach to identity formation exists where the online and offline merge and become inseparable. Additionally such games provide an opportunity to re-examine embodiment in online spaces. For many researchers in this area, the emphasis is on a Cartesian split between mind and body when sitting at a computer, however in a location that emphasises the importance of an avatar body, this assumption of body-less action becomes troubled.
On a personal note, I believe it is important for research with gamers to be conducted on friendly terms, especially since so much academic research about video games is hostile and insulting. Instead, worthwhile research can be created about gamers beyond the staple of hysterical media effects research. As an avid gamer myself, it is important to evaluate video games and players in a more sensible and sensitive fashion.