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STEREOTYPES AND AVATAR CHOICES: A HERMENEUTICAL ACCOUNT OF FEMALE GAMERS LIVED EXPERIENCES

Grant number: 23/12576-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2024
Effective date (End): February 28, 2027
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Administration - Business Administration
Principal Investigator:Delane Botelho
Grantee:Yuri Marcel Dallabrida
Host Institution: Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (EAESP). Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Avatars are a medium for individuals to express their identities in virtual spaces. In online gaming, expressing one's identity is challenging for female gamers as being a woman conflicts with the hegemonic gamer identity. Besides being out-groups, they are subjected to a series of stereotypes and to harassment. Existing literature has already explored gender and avatars and revealed, for example, that women tend to make avatar choices that reflect their gender more than men do. Interpretations for this type of phenomenon are abundant: stronger social pressures, stereotype threat, negotiated performances of identity, etc. However, how female gamers themselves make sense of the stereotypes they face and their avatar choices has not been explored by previous studies. The purpose of this project is to identify how stereotypes experienced by female gamers affect their sensemaking about in-game character/avatar choices. To determine this, I propose a qualitative research strategy based on a hermeneutical approach with phenomenological interviews and a multi-layered data set that includes a survey and participant observation through gameplay and different content available online: YouTube videos, Twitch live streams, subreddits, as well as fan-made and official game websites. I expect to publish the findings and their implications in a high-impact journal as well as through non-academic formats directed to marketeers, consumers, and politicians.

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