First Advisor

Priya Kapoor

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Communication






Communication, Gender-bending, WoW, World of Warcraft (Game), Video games -- Social aspects, Gender identity



Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 119 p.) : col. ill.


According to a 2009 study, 68% of American households played video games (Entertainment Software Association). With this number continually on the rise, video games and their cultures are in need of further scholarly exploration. A video game of particular interest is a massive online game known as World of Warcraft, drawing over twelve million players worldwide (Blizzard Entertainment, 2010). With a cyberspace-based culture, World of Warcraft exposes its players to phenomenon that are unique to it, and thereby not easily understood through the same measures and evaluations offered by society at large. One such phenomena is that of gender, or more specifically the bending of gender by which players assume characters of the opposite gender. Although a common practice in video games like World of Warcraft, its motivations have yet to receive adequately scholarly attention. The present study seeks to explore the process of gender selection in the massive online game World of Warcraft through qualitative methods utilizing interviews, texts, and field notes. The data is then analyzed using Kellner's (2003) methods of critical analysis of media and Langian's (1975) work on thematization.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Communication

Persistent Identifier