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Title: Playing the Sims 2 : constructing and negotiating woman computer game player identities through the practice of skinning
Author: Wirman, Hanna Elina
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 6033
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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Despite some remarkable shifts in gender demographics of game players during the last decade, computer games remain male-gendered media. Engagement in such a culture, this work suggests, is characterised by confusion and incoherence for women players who are simultaneously taking part in male dominated leisure which marginalises them and a society which assumes gender equality as an acquired right. Small-scale ethnography tied together with an analysis of concurrent cultural discourses and the game system's characteristics allows a deep analysis of the construction of identities that conflict with the naturalised idea of a player. The Sims 2 (2004) computer game sets out a unique case for a study of women's player identities because it is both exceptionally popular among women and individuated by a theme and a structure that are understood as 'feminine'. Furthermore, a group of women players whose engagement with the game is characterised by creation and sharing of new and altered game content, the skinning of it, appears interesting since the women skinners resist traditional gender roles by taking active, productive positions towards the game. This work's original contribution to knowledge is in offering a nuanced view of female game playing which resists easy assimilation to some of the dominant concepts recently in play within the field of study, such as political resistance in the form of game content appropriation and female empowerment through video game play. While skinners seem to have a possibility to change a game that results from a male-dominated game development culture, their skinning is fundamentally facilitated and invited by the game they play. Such practice therefore appears different from the 'high' forms of subversive user-participation that are typically cherished in the studies of media use. Consecutively, the approach in this thesis questions the straightforwardly embracing undertone of the current Web 2.0 'buzz' that claims democratisation of media production. The Sims 2 skinning offers an example of a productive practice that does not go beyond what we understand as gameplay, but demands revisiting the very notion of gameplay itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available