Due to the restrictions of the dissertation, several topics had to be eliminated from the discussion which I will hope to address in future research papers. These topics include:
Ph.D. Thesis Idea
My current idea for possible Ph.D. research topics is tentatively called: ‘Your Fun Is Wrong: Gatekeeping versus Inclusiveness, a New Transformative Era in Geek and Gaming Subcultures’. This thesis would possibly investigate:
- Representation and inclusion of minority identities within gaming and geek cultures (comic books, certain tv and film fandoms), including but not limited to LGBTQ+, people of colour, and people with disabilities (visible and invisible) and how representation or the lack of representation impacts their social experiences and wellbeing. This would include a subsection on identity layering found in the recent cultural phenomenon of LGBTQ+ individuals being able to cosplay cannon LGBTQ+ characters.
- Crossovers between leisure and public health, specifically how those from mid to lower socioeconomic demographics utilize gaming and fandom-related recreation and leisure activities as a way to mitigate the effects of stress, chronic illness or mental health concerns.
- The layering of identities for those who experience exclusion in their lived social lives (at work, at home or in the wider community) but find inclusion within their fandoms, either in virtual spaces or at specific events such as conventions, and how this impacts on their personal resilience, self-esteem and other factors which impact health and self-care outcomes.
- Participation in charitable crowdfunding via gaming-associated fandoms or following of gamers on Youtube and Twitch. This recent phenomenon has seen many professional streaming gamers participate in charity drives by gaming online for certain periods of time in order to raise funds for designated charities. This new form of social activism and philanthropy breaks down social stigmas against the gaming community and is creating new norms of social action and activism that are specific to these new technological platforms for streaming media.
Other Possible Future Research
Possible future research, should I become an academic researcher, could consider the following topics:
- The stigma and deviant nature once associated with Dungeons & Dragons is slowly transforming, and has greatly changed since the ‘moral panic’ of the 1970s when the game was incorrectly associated with occult worship and ideologies; and that Dungeons & Dragons players have created a form of collective identity and community which has begun to flourish with the shifting perceptions of gaming, gaming technologies (including online streaming platforms such as Twitch), and leisure activities.
- Playing Dungeons & Dragons has therapeutic applications, namely for those who struggle with anxiety and depression, as well as having potential uses for other mental illness such as agoraphobia and PTSD; by initiating players in socialisation-based therapy as well as providing escapism from anxiety-inducing stressors and potentially reducing some symptoms of depression.
- Followers of certain Dungeons & Dragons related fandoms, with focus on the exemplar of Critical Role, are often involved in creative endeavors connected to this form of gaming and its fandom. These include, but are not limited to: cosplaying as characters from Critical Role; supporting small independent businesses which sell merchandise relating to Critical Role; the creation of fan art and other fan-related materials; creation of music and video projects that relate to Critical Role. This section will aim to show the multitude of positive fandom behaviors surrounding the show Critical Role which benefit many different international members of this virtual community.
Artwork ©Mikandii. Used with permission.