Video Games Foster Identity in the Classroom

I'm making my way through the essays within "Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century." One essay ties in nicely with the discussion in my video games & identity post from earlier this week. It provides a strong example of how video games shaped the identity and relationships of some casual and serious gamers.

JoAnn Griffin's "Relationship Gaming and Identity: Stephanie and Josh"

Griffin describes a relationship between Josh (traditional gamer) and Stephanie (an occasional gamer) and there use of video games identities. They played Tiger Woods Golf together as a shared experience, discussing and enjoying. For Stephanie, gaming was also a chance to mix up the traditional social roles within Josh's family. She was able to play with Josh's father and develop a strong relationship with both Josh and his father. Gaming allowed Stephanie to hold onto her existing self identity while creating a new virtual one and using that virtual identity to join a new social group (the "boys club" of Josh and his father).

This case study discusses the benefits that Stephanie received when she created a virtual identity that was not an alternative identity, but was merely an extension of her existing self. The virtual identity levels the playing field in existing social groups (limiting class, race, and in this case gender), but the strength and growth is found in validating each person's existing self and personality. Griffin discusses video games' ability to shape real-world identities based upon the overlap (not the differences) in the virtual self and the real-world self.

Games do need to be a place where people create an alternative personality, games can be a place where people's personalities can finally shine through.

Image from Amazon