Gaming Bodies: Video Game Corporeality in Characters, Players, and Representations

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Gaming Bodies: Video Game Corporeality in Characters, Players, and Representations

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This dissertation explores the concept of bodies as it arises in various sites of video game culture. It answers the implicit call found in game studies research to define, explore, and describe video game bodies, but the varied nature of bodies and games, and the inherent lack of a foundational theory of the subject to guide its exploration, necessitates the study of several possible sites of investigation in order to propose characteristics of video game bodies. To this end, I performed four case studies within a diverse range of sites of video game culture in order to discover what video game bodies mean in these particular instances. The sites of investigation include: third-person character bodies in action video games, the game streaming website, the exercise game Wii Fit U, and the gaming habits of mobile game players. The guiding methodologies of each case study vary depending on the site of analysis, and the variety of methods speaks to the diversity of the subject matter. However, each case study followed a similar research plan: I formed a research question aimed at focusing on the nature and role of video game bodies in the given site of analysis, and I followed a method appropriate for the question at hand. For the most part, the methods are humanistic with an emphasis on qualitative content analysis, interviews, and grounded theory. My findings suggest four preliminary characteristics of gaming corporeality, or the nature of bodies in/of video games, which share several similarities that I discuss in the conclusion. The characteristics are as follows: the aesthetics game characters’ bodies, strategies of drawing awareness to game players’ bodies, the gamification of game players’ bodies, and the temporal/spatial agency of players’ bodies. Ultimately, I argue that the four sites and characteristics of video game bodies share three commonalities, which I call the three I’s of digital viscera: immersion, interactivity, and intuition.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2016. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: John Logie. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 197 pages.

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Anderson, Sky. (2016). Gaming Bodies: Video Game Corporeality in Characters, Players, and Representations. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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