American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


"I Don't Take Kindly To Your Invasion of This Fine Gaming Culture": Gender, Emotion, and Power in Digital Gaming Spaces as Demonstrated Through Dead Island

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies

First Advisor

Radhika Gajjala (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Lara Lengel (Other)

Third Advisor

Sandra Faulkner (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Member)


My dissertation focuses on intersections of gender, power, and emotion in different digital spaces, specifically video game-related spaces. I'm predominantly concerned with ways in which gender operates in the video gaming subculture in such a way that it can elicit a range of strong emotions that are often skirted or even neglected in academic studies of the medium. My primary focus is on a triangulation of visual and qualitative content analysis with participant observation to examine the different ways in which power and emotion manifest around the female body. Two of these areas include the different ways players, viewers, audiences, whatever one would call a person who comes into contact with the visual components of a video game, interact with playable- and non-playable video game characters. Additionally, I focus on digital non-gaming space interactions, such as those in discussion boards or popular media article comment sections. The entire dissertation is structured from a critical feminist perspective and uses the video game Dead Island (2011) as an anchor to ground the discussion.