Date Thesis Awarded

4-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Literary and Cultural Studies

Advisor

Arthur Knight

Committee Member

Keith Leslie Johnson

Committee Member

Brad Weiss

Abstract

This thesis is a study of TrueAchievements (TA), an online community and social network for players of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One videogame consoles. It is a response to the emerging canon of book-length game studies ethnographic texts, in particular Boellstorff et al.’s Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: a Handbook of Method. The project is guided by two central threads. The first thread is a critique of danah boyd and Mikael Jakobsson’s uses of the rhetoric of social constructionism in their “socio-technical” theories of the relation of ‘the social’ and ‘the technological.’ Drawing on the work of Daniel Miller, I understand this relation to be a dialectic in which the technological is “invented” at the same time as those individuals who compose the social’s subjectivities’ are affected by their reception of the technological. The second thread guiding my thesis is an analysis of TA and its users vis-à-vis the theories of Ien Ang, Lauren Berlant, and Judith Butler. Building on Raymond Williams’ concept of the “structure of feeling” and Berlant’s concept of the “intimate public,” I analyze what participation in TA does for its users and how that doing is structured, ultimately arguing that the singular becomes general on TA through TA users’ learning to “latch onto” certain ideological genres. I understand identity to be a discursive effect: the diffuse but palpable ties which bind the members of TA together are performatively reified through TA users’ enacting of their relation to these ideological genres.