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27 June 2011

Book: Ethnographies of the Videogame

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putting people first
by experientia

Ethnographies of the Videogame
Ethnographies of the Videogame: Gender, Narrative and Praxis
by Helen Thornham, City University London, UK
Ethnographies of the Videogame
Ashgate, July 2011, 218 pages
[Amazon UK link]

Ethnographies of the Videogame uses the medium of the videogame to explore wider significant sociological issues around new media, interaction, identity, performance, memory and mediation. Addressing questions of how we interpret, mediate and use media texts, particularly in the face of claims about the power of new media to continuously shift the parameters of lived experience, gaming is employed as a ‘tool’ through which we can understand the gendered and socio-culturally constructed phenomenon of our everyday engagement with media.

The book is particularly concerned with issues of agency and power, identifying strong correlations between perceptions of gaming and actual gaming practices, as well as the reinforcement, through gaming, of established (gendered, sexed, and classed) power relationships within households. As such, it reveals the manner in which existing relations re-emerge through engagement with new technology.

Offering an empirically grounded understanding of what goes on when we mediate technology and media in our everyday lives Ethnographies of the Videogame is more than a timely intervention into game studies. It provides pertinent and reflexive commentary on the relationship between text and audience, highlighting the relationships of gender and power in gaming practice. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in media and new media, gender and class, and the sociology of leisure.

Helen Thornham is Lecturer in Sociology and Media at City University, London, UK

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