Default Characters and the Embodied Nature of Play: Race, Gender, and Gamer Identity

  • Jacob Steven Euteneuer Oklahoma State University


This paper examines several recent controversies in the gaming and popular culture fandoms that revolved around issues of sexuality, race, and gender. It uses these examples as a means for examining which roles and identities are privileged when it comes to talking about gamers and gamer identity. The paper argues that a shift toward play as an embodied process allows for more inclusive games and forms of play which would allow for the expansion of who both sees their self in videogames and is able to play like a character of their own identity. Drawing on videogames such as Mass Effect 3 and Grand Theft Auto V, this paper uses visual rhetorical strategies to analyse and identify how specific cultures and identities have been excluded from the tag of gamer. Additionally, it examines canonical videogames of the past to establish how feminine characters have been treated under the male gaze. Finally, it provides a glimpse of the possibilities for videogames to be aware of their embodied nature and potential for inclusivity.

Author Biography

Jacob Steven Euteneuer, Oklahoma State University
Jacob Euteneuer is a PhD candidate at Oklahoma State University where he studies fiction, visual rhetoric, and game studies.


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July 19, 2016