Macquarie University
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Trans* and gender diverse players, avatars, and the performance of gender

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posted on 2022-10-11, 02:50 authored by Kayson WhitehouseKayson Whitehouse

Trans* and Gender Diverse (TGD) players are a minority who are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the virtual, anonymous, and invisible nature of videogames to overcome offline obstacles. Yet little research has investigated these players, and most works exclude TGD players due to heteronormative assumptions. This thesis draws on queer game studies to investigate TGD players’ use of videogames. Forty TGD participants were interviewed to gain insight into if, how and why TGD player’s videogaming related to the expression or exploration of their gender-identity (GID), and any effects this has. Through phenomenological thematic analysis, it was found that the participants used videogames, particularly avatars, as method of GID expression and, to a lesser extent, exploration. Participants used avatar appearance, and supporting features, such as pronouns, and personality, in this play. The findings are framed against existing literature to reveal the heteronormative assumptions such works draw upon, particularly in research concerning player-avatar relationships, gender performances and gender-bending. The findings of this thesis have implications for future games research concerning gender, revealing that gender performances cannot necessarily be identified through external observation. This thesis encourages future works to define gender clearly, and aim to subvert heteronormative assumptions, particularly those of cisnormativity.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction -- Chapter 2 - Literature review -- Chapter 3 - Methodology -- Chapter 4 - Results -- Chapter 5 - Analysis and discussion -- Chapter 6 - Conclusion -- References


A thesis submitted to Macquarie University for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Computing

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Michael Hitchens

Additional Supervisor 1

Nicole Matthews


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




102 pages

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