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Gendered geographies of online gaming: a Brazil/UK comparative case study of gendered spatial practices of inclusion, exclusion and agency in the MOBA League of Legends

Dornelles, V. R. C. (2020) Gendered geographies of online gaming: a Brazil/UK comparative case study of gendered spatial practices of inclusion, exclusion and agency in the MOBA League of Legends. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00104098


The digital, a complex assemblage of ontics, aesthetics, logics and discourses (Ash, Kitchin and Leszczynski, 2016), is now ingrained in geographical inquiries. Computer and videogames, genuinely geographical objects, appear at the vanguard of technology development, by connecting sophisticated works of art to entertainment and communication systems, arousing industries and markets around the Western world. Nevertheless, inequalities still haunt the access and advancement of digital technologies, creating absences and obscurities across the spaces of the digital, and that includes the realm of games. Scaffolded by a feminist standpoint, this research explores some aspects of digital inequalities by attending to how gendered spatial practices of inclusion, exclusion and agency are manifest within online gaming spaces. To examine these dynamics in their socio-cultural context, the massive online battle arena (MOBA) League of Legends was chosen as instrumental case study, where two different communities of players in Brazil and the United Kingdom were investigated. To answer the research question, a mixed-methods approach encompassing online surveys and semi-structured online interviews, informed by supportive participant observation, has provided rich quantitative and qualitative data. Abductive analysis, sustained by a multifaceted disciplinary conceptual framework, comprised descriptive statistics, content and thematic analysis. As a result, this research illuminates the nature of the gendered relations at play in the production of digital spaces of League, as well as the formation of homosocial spaces within the game. This innovative study has thus evidenced the gendered character of League of Legends’ spaces by unearthing the complex entanglements of identification and belonging, articulated and disputed through practices of antagonism and rapport enacted through online misbehaviour, homosociality and friendship. These findings have advanced the field of digital geographies by employing a feminist purchase to the production of digital spaces while expanding the contextual focus of game studies to Northern Europe and Latin America.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Maddrell, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:104098


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