Papers 4: Identity Questions in Online Communities
“Autsome”: Fostering an Autistic Identity in an Online Minecraft Community for Youth with Autism
Northwestern University, United States of America
Autism is a medical diagnosis that has attracted much attention in recent decades, particularly due to an increase in the numbers of children being diagnosed and the changing requirements for getting the diagnosis. In parallel online communities around autism—both those supporting individuals and families seeking treatment and those supporting embracing the autism identity—have grown. Previous literature has shown the positive impact support groups can have for those encountering hardship in their lives, such as depression. In this qualitative study of an online community for autistic children centered around a virtual world, we explore how the label “autism” can be not only a source of disenfranchisement, leading to harassment and violence—in both the virtual and physical world—, but also a source of empowerment and identity. We illuminate the tension in claiming the autistic identity within this community—having a sense of identity in the community, but, in doing so, also “othering” those with autism further. The walls of the community work to keep community members safe, but also set them apart from others on the internet. We see that the Autcraft community goes beyond being a support group for victims of targeted violence, to one that redefines and helps community members embrace their own autistic identities.
Skins for Sale: Linking Player Identity, Representation, and Purchasing Practices
1Stony Brook University, Long Island, New York; 2Penn State University, Pennsylvania; 3College of Westchester, White Plains, NY; 4University of California, Irvine, United States of America; 5N/A
Although understudied, microtransactions are becoming widespread in games, especially for the purchase of aesthetic variation in-game. In this paper, we review literature around representation in games and purchas-ing practices tied to player racial identity to provide insight on how in-game racial representational options and microtransactions may impact purchasing practices of players of diverse racial backgrounds. We select-ed articles which articulate racial identity, representation in games, and purchasing practices in ways that could be applied to the in-game pur-chases of non-white character representation in the form of “skins.” The diversity of both players and game characters is steadily increasing in the US. Several of the sources we review here examine this theme and how it is felt by players of color. In this review we thread together re-search that has focused on the state and effect of representation in games, with research considering the role of racial identity in consumer practice to better examine how players of color feel about purchasing self-representation in games
Looking for Group: Live Streaming Programming for Small Audiences
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, United States of America
Live streams are used by some people to broadcast themselves doing creative work such as programming. To understand why individuals choose to stream themselves writing code, we interviewed eight streamers with small audiences of ten or fewer viewers. Several of these individuals were in a transitionary stage that supported a streaming lifestyle, and were seeking feedback and live companionship. These findings guide a discussion of the implications of creative live streams for people under-going life transitions, and how learners might use streams to support their learning objectives.