My chapter ‘Video Games and Identity Formation in Contemporary Society‘ for the upcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Digital Media edited by Deana A. Rohlinger and Sarah Sobieraj is available online.
The irruption and broad adoption of digital technologies such as video games are reshaping individuals and affecting fundamental aspects of their symbolic and material configuration such as their identity, gaze, body, and agency. This chapter focuses on what video gamers’ identities tell us about the contemporary processes of identity formation. Drawing on social theorists who have approached the crisis of identity in contemporary society, the chapter sets out a theoretical framework that describes the shift in the identity construction models from those based on solid and permanent identities to those centered around fluid and fragmented ones. The text then explores the most relevant empirical research on gaming and identity, linking it to the main debates on the subject. Not only do video games express the fluid, contingent, and volatile nature of identity in today’s world; they also anticipate social settings in which the very notion of identity is under scrutiny.
identity, video game, gamer, sociology, gaming
In this sense, video game culture shows us how to think outside the coordinates of identity, which is not a headlong rush to theorize about the ethereal nature of contemporary life but a theoretical, political, and social stance that allows us to think of social reality under a new light, letting marginalized subject positions reach new horizons. Research on gaming and identity should distance itself from the prototypical (exceptional and in decline) gamer figure and explore its extended margins (whether understood in terms of the gamer category or not), including the multiple and diverse possibilities that dwell in the video game culture.