College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Title

Exploring online and gaming communities through community psychology

Date of Award

Fall 11-21-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Christopher Keys, PhD

Second Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, PhD

Third Advisor

Leonard Jason, PhD

Abstract

Through three manuscripts, this dissertation explores the potential for understanding online and hybrid gaming communities through a community psychology perspective. The first manuscript reviews literature on online communities in major community psychology journals. Historically, community psychologists have focused on community building and maintenance, community support, communication norms, and advocacy. There are opportunities, however, to explore other topics relevant to community psychologists’ interests and collaborate with researchers in other fields. The second manuscript reports the findings of a mixed-methods survey of 496 fighting game community (FGC) members. It explores FGC members’ metastereotypes, explanations for why certain portrayals of the community exist, and their effects on the FGC. Generally, FGC members believe inaccurate stereotypes about the FGC specifically and the gaming community more generally exist, due in part to a lack of understanding and/or ulterior motives. Negative portrayals of the community are largely seen as harmful to the community. This study emphasizes understanding how communities believe others see them and how that can affect community dynamics. The final qualitative manuscript examines perspectives of the social identity of people who play games, emphasizing the importance of understanding the “gamer” identity through more than unidimensional measures like gaming habits. The variance in identity centrality, required behaviors, player motivations, and perceptions about the label highlight the complexity of the “gamer” identity label. Taken together, these manuscripts offer a rationale for and exemplars of studying online and hybrid gaming communities through a community psychology perspective. They also argue for an increased attention to opportunities for interdisciplinary work.

SLP Collection

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