Article Analysis_I’m a Warrior, I’m a monster – Who am I anyway? Shifting / Shaping Identity through Video Game Play by Riakeem Kelley2
April 11, 2012 by rkelle4
The authors of the article “I’m a Warrior, I’m a monster – Who am I anyway? Shifting / Shaping Identity through Video Game Play” studied the effects of video game play on identity constructions. The study specifically focused on young male identity construction, and it involved interviewing 3 young adult males who were each asked to reflect on their own gameplay experiences. The writers of the article who did the research strongly believed in nurture over nature claiming that they believed that identities “are socially constructed,” and that choices are present in how individuals represent themselves. They then argue that video games are capable of aiding in the aspect of nature that shapes identity, especially identities in digital worlds. Furthermore, the writers claim that “our ‘original’ self is impossible to distinguish from the self that is created through societal expectations. From a postmodern perspective, identity is never quite defined, its final form is never reached, it can be manipulated – by media, by peers, by desires – it is always under construction. The postmodern self is fragmented; each identity we create is a temporary construction.” Through video games, we are able to create a piece of our identity that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to show outside of the digital world for whatever reason.
The article compared Foucault’s theory of fluidity to W. James’ theory of Consistency. Fluidity, at a surface level, is the idea that identities are fluid, constantly changing constructions on how we are shaped to be viewed by others. Consistency argues the opposite, stating that we are who we are and we are that way at our core. The writers of the article favor fluidity, and through their study, they hoped to show that video games can lead to a different version of one’s self as it is presented in a digital world than it is presented in the real world. I, however, believed that the article could have done more in terms of providing stronger examples of how identities are actually developed. The 3 men they interviewed were all biased in that the games they played were reflections of their interested; sports, first person shooters, and other male target games. However, this fell more in line of humans shaping video games than the reverse, and I would have liked to have read about a game that caused someone to show something they would not have been able to show about themselves in real life…like what the article was allegedly about.
The article relates to our class discussions because we often discuss what we learn in games or how we can play games and reflect on our experiences. We recently discussed in class how we perceive ourselves in video games, if we do, and how do characters in the game represents our projections of ourselves. Especially in games that involve intense interactions with other players as they see our digital selves and we see their digital selves, what we take and give from these experiences may come from our own identities. We discussed in class whether or not games shape our identities or if games cause us to grow and change in a certain way, or if games maintain certain stereotypes about other identities.
For me, the article was flawed. For one, the study was very subjective. Many of the questions asked were clearly prompted based on some of the highly observational and overly critical responses. Also, the findings were not very palpable because the study of 3 male gamers all in the early adult lives was very biased and it came across as negative propaganda for games and how they shape our identities. Also, the conclusions were very well, inconclusive. They ended the article by stating very vaguely that the research on identity development was the “is neither simple nor singular, but is shaped by multiple complex influences.” This was a mere assertion of what they claimed, and their study was really only a series of questions to 3 specific gamers, and in a statistical sense that number was way too low and defined to be representative of “the average gamer” as the article put it.
One of the articles strongest arguments was the idea of masculinity as it develops in video games. Players, male and female (neither very well represented in the study) are exposed to a male marketing majority. We discussed this issue heavily in class, and I continue to wonder how much that aids in the developing identities of the individuals that play games. How do young males and females that play games like Tomb Raider or Call of Duty see their own reflections in these games? This goes back to my earlier qualm with the article and how these marketing methods only serve as methods of propaganda.