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Meaningful Play 2018 at Michigan State University

Paper Information

TitleHow We Create and Embody the Other: Implications for Diversity in Character-Centric Games and Media
Presenter(s)Anna Kasunic and Geoff Kaufman
SessionDiversity in Games
TimeThursday, October 11, 3:00p-4:00p
LocationMSU Room
FormatPaper Presentation
DescriptionAny act of character creation is likely to entail stepping outside of the self. With regard to diversity and inclusivity in games and other character-centric media, the outcomes (e.g., whether certain media are sufficiently diverse, authentic, sensitive and inclusive) receive considerable attention from game designers and researchers; we think it is also critical to study and glean insights from the processes of character creation. In this paper, we present two complementary studies focused on understanding the role of diversity and identity in character creation. First, we present a qualitative interview study (N=14) with individuals who are deeply involved in character creation processes across various domains. Next, we present a survey study conducted with a more general population (N=101) recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT), in which participants were instructed to conceive of and describe a fictional character before completing a parallel self-description task. From this pair of studies, we observed that the ways in which people relate to, understand, and struggle with their characters are deeply intertwined with understandings of the self. Moreover, in defining themselves and others, participants included but often transcended demographic traits, with non-demographic traits such as personality or ways of thinking about the world often holding greater weight. We discuss how our studies can enrich explorations of, and reflections on, diversity in games and play, and outline next steps we will pursue in this research.
Top Paper AwardThis paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2018 Top Paper.

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