Trans* and gender diverse players: avatars and gender-alignment

Kayson Whitehouse*, Michael Hitchens, Nicole Matthews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Trans* and Gender Diverse players are a minority who are well-positioned to take advantage of the virtual, anonymous, and invisible nature of video games to overcome offline obstacles. Yet little research has investigated these players, and most works exclude trans* and gender diverse players due to heteronormative assumptions. This article draws on queer game studies to explore trans* and gender diverse players’ performances of gender in video games, particularly through the use of avatars. Forty trans* and gender diverse participants were interviewed to investigate if, how, and why trans* and gender diverse player's video gaming related to the expression and exploration of their gender-identity, and the effects of these experiences. Through phenomenological thematic analysis, it was found that the participants used video games, particularly avatars, as a method of gender-identity expression. Rather than seeing such players as “gender bending” as proposed in the existing literature, this paper suggests participants used avatar appearance, and supporting features (e.g., pronouns and personality) in this gender-aligning play. The findings of this paper have implications for future games research concerning gender, revealing that gender performances cannot necessarily be identified through external observation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100584
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEntertainment Computing
Volume47
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Gender performance
  • Transgender
  • Gender diverse
  • Avatar
  • Video game
  • Gender

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