“Game On! The Formation of Identity in Electrate Gamer Culture”
CSULB English Department Inaugural Conference – 2012
Paper presented in the Identity and the Formation of Bodies panel.
As media converges in 21st century culture a shift is taking place in the way that people form and perform their identities especially in electrate space. Digital media is changing at an alarming rate and perceptions of communication must constantly be shifted in this mutable electrate space. Lisa Gitleman, James P. Zappen, and Henry Jenkins propose concepts of electrate communities and identity formation which need to be updated in light of the online gaming explosion. Over the last twenty years the culture surrounding gaming has been changed considerable. Once considered the realm of teenage nerds gaming has become a vital component of the everyday lives and communications practices of millions of people the world over but its impact is far deeper. Gaming allows participants to engage in a complex process of interaction with themselves and others which allows for skill building and the creation and alteration of both digital and real personas. While gamer characters often start as distinct created identities separate from the self which allow for identity experimentation, they ultimately cross the digital/analog boundary. Gaming allows players to log in to become their ideal selves. As a gamer your character/avatar can become your Character/Self. In this way gamers are empowered within the electrate gaming media to perpetually create and recreate not only their digital identities but their analog selves as well which has allowed gamers who once occupied a limnal sub-sub-cultural space to rise to a position of prominence on the fringe of normative society.