Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Language

English

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Eric Peterson

Second Committee Member

Kristin Langellier

Third Committee Member

Nathan Stormer

Abstract

Online play-by-post role-playing games mark the discursive intersection between computer-mediated-communication and gaming. The performance of gender and sexuality is an important aspect of online play-by-post role-playing games.

Although play-by-post role-playing games are open world and do not have the same graphical and technological constraints as other forms of gaming, the performances on them are governed by both explicit and implicit rules. Performances of gender and sexuality are also governed by cultural standards. This thesis seeks to describe how players perform gender and sexuality within these boundaries.

This thesis describes the performance of gender and sexuality on the website Another Day in Paradise. I located meaningful performances of gender and sexuality within discourse pulled from Another Day in Paradise. I then organized these performances into themes. These themes were further organized into three clusters. Performances of gender and sexuality in romantic interactions include expectations of men and women have of each other while courting. Self-aware gender expectations show characters as aware of how they perform gender and sexuality in traditional ways and draw on popular tropes. Performance of gender and sexuality in non-romantic interactions portrays how gender and sexuality are performed between friends and in parent-child relationships.

Analysis of these thematic clusters portrays traditional, heteronormative, and patriarchal performances of gender and sexuality. Men are shown as having power, not just in romantic relationships but in familial and plutonic relationships as well, while women are shown as subservient to men.