Empathy at play: Embodying posthuman subjectivities in gaming

Wilde, Poppy and Evans, Adrienne (2017) Empathy at play: Embodying posthuman subjectivities in gaming. Convergence, 25 (5-6). pp. 791-806. ISSN 1354-8565

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Abstract

In this article, we address the need for a posthuman account of the relationship between the avatar and player. We draw on a particular line of posthumanist theory associated closely with the work of Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti and N. Katherine Hayles that suggests a constantly permeable, fluid and extended subjectivity, displacing the boundaries between human and other. In doing so, we propose a posthuman concept of empathy in gameplay, and we apply this concept to data from the first author’s 18-month ethnographic field notes of gameplay in the MMORPG World of Warcraft. Exploring these data through our analysis of posthuman empathy, we demonstrate the entanglement of avatar–player, machine–human relationship. We show how empathy allows us to understand this relationship as constantly negotiated and in process, producing visceral reactions in the intra-connected avatar–player subject as well as moments of co-produced in-game action that require ‘affective matching’ between subjective and embodied experiences. We argue that this account of the avatar–player relationship extends research in game culture, providing a horizontal, non-hierarchical discussion of its most necessary interaction.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1354856517709987
Date: 29 May 2017
Uncontrolled Keywords: Avatar–player relationships, digital culture, embodiment, empathy, MMORPG, posthuman, posthuman empathy, posthuman subjectivity, World of Warcraft
Subjects: P300 Media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Poppy Wilde
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 11:37
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2020 14:30
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8308

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