Gender and Gaming: What can social psychology tell us about the construction of gamer identity for female gamers? PSYPAG 2022 Work in Progress Poster
Across digital game research, “gamers” are discussed, defined, and measured using various approaches and two questions are often raised – who is a gamer and what makes someone a gamer? ‘Gamers’ are stereotyped as “mostly young, mostly nerdy and most definitely male” (Harwell, 2014), disregarding the wide demographic of players, particularly as females account for 46% of the domain. Gamers are often understood using social identity theory (SIT; Tajfel, 1978), which illustrates how individuals create and define their place in society based on membership in social groups. But the efficacy of SIT principles as processes in the construction of gamer identity is unknown and further research is needed to explore this directly with players who identify as gamers, particularly non-male identifying gamers. The framework of Multiple Social Identities (MSI; Rydell et al., 2009) has interesting application here (Figure 1) – illustrating how we each have multiple identities, and some may align where others are “competing”. Kaye & Pennington (2018) suggested a superordinate approach (Turner et al., 1987) to gamer identity may have a positive psychological impact for female players, but further research is needed to explore this approach. Instead, subordinate approaches to gamer may provide more accessible and meaningful targets for identification (Rabinovich & Morton, 2011). But could this promote the notion of a dominant masculine and subordinate feminine – as previously considered regarding ‘hardcore’ gamers (Vanderhoef, 2013)? This on-going project is exploring whether non-male identifying players construct their identity as gamers in a diverse way to male-identifying players and whether “female” and “gamer” are competing where “male” and “gamer” may align.
The current work in progress poster was accepted and presented at the BPS PSYPAG 2022 conference.