WHO IS POSSIBLE ONLINE? TECHNOLOGICAL AFFORDANCES AND SOCIAL NORMS SHAPING VISUAL AGENCY AND IN-GAME IDENTITIES
The article researches how identities are constructed online, highlights what frames identity (co)construction; what identities are possible, and thereby, who is possible online. In multiplayer online games, identities are shaped by (at least) two frames; the technological affordances of the game as well as the social norms of that particular platform (Ståhl and Rusk, 2020; Ståhl, 2021a). Here, this discussion is exemplified through empirical data from the multiplayer game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) from 2017–2018. The research project had a player-centred design and is positioned as an ethno-case study (Parker-Jenkins, 2018). The data was collected in collaboration with a vocational school with an esports programme in Finland that the participants (17–18 years old, all
identifying as men) attended. In a previous analysis of the material, we (Ståhl and Rusk, 2020) noted five tools for identity (co)construction. One of these, player customization, will be the focus of this short paper. The aim is to discuss visual player customization as in-game identity (co)construction concerning technological affordances as well as social norms through the lens of technomasculinity. Additionally, based on this discussion, the chapter provides some implications for future studies on visual agency in online gaming.
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