Politics, pronouns, and the players: Examining how videogame players react to the inclusion of a transgender character in World of Warcraft

Heritage, Frazer (2021) Politics, pronouns, and the players: Examining how videogame players react to the inclusion of a transgender character in World of Warcraft. Gender and Language. ISSN 17476321 (In Press)

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Abstract

Despite being released in 2004, it was not until 2020 when the online videogame World of Warcraft (WoW) introduced its first transgender character (WoWHead, 2020). This paper examines how players responded to this new character – named Pelagos. I analyse official WoW fora to explore how many players were for/against the inclusion of Pelagos, how these views were constructed, and how posters interact with each other. The data demonstrates a surprising backlash to transphobia and overwhelming support for the inclusion of a transgender character. Those who were against the inclusion of Pelagos framed their arguments in terms of objections to political correctness, arguing that gaming should remain politically neutral. By contrast, those in favour of including Pelagos argued that videogames are political by nature. I also examine the second person pronouns used for Pelagos and note that he is very rarely misgendered. I argue that such a positive response has implications for research into Critical Discourse Studies and for videogame companies.

Item Type: Article
Date: 18 September 2021
Uncontrolled Keywords: Transphobia; trans linguistics; transgender characters; online fora; videogame community; videogames; World of Warcraft
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-01 - social sciences (non-specific)
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-02 - sociology
CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-07 - linguistics
CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Frazer Heritage
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2021 09:06
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2021 09:06
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12202

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