I am a PhD candidate in the Communication & Culture joint program at York University and Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I completed my Master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies at York University. My MA research focused on video games, and I am continuing in this field for my PhD work. I consider myself a dedicated gamer (even with all the controversy that label carries with it) while also being a critical game scholar and a feminist.
My research often focuses on gender representation in video games. For example, I have written on representations of fatherhood in games for the academic video game journal Loading… and on father-daughter relationships in games for the middle-state academic publication First Person Scholar. I also have a forthcoming publication on fatherhood in the BioShock series. There’s a bit of a theme here, as you can see. I’m planning on writing on motherhood in games as well, specifically looking at monstrous or villainous mothers.
For a taste of my approach to monstrous mothers, I have also written about the monstrous-feminine (that is, grotesque female monsters) in video games for Press Start (accessible here: https://www.press-start.gla.ac.uk/index.php/press-start/article/view/85) and Unwinnable (accessible here: Unwinnable).
I have also written on gender representation in The Legend of Zelda series, which I have submitted for publishing. I’ll provide a link to that once it’s ready! I also presented on that topic at Replaying Japan 2017, a conference held at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. Click here for the schedule.
Although unrelated to gender representation, I’ve also written about Telltale Games’ adaptations, with specific focus on The Walking Dead, for the academic journal Cinephile (accessible here).
My current research focus, which is also my dissertation topic, is on the representation of monstrosity in sci-fi and fantasy video games. This includes monsters, aliens, demons, etc. I’m unpacking the ways in which monstrosity in games functions as a symbolic representation of marginalized bodies (female, queer, disabled, mad, old, racialized).
Last year I gave a talk at the Canadian Game Studies Association’s annual conference on “Sexy Aliens and Abject Monsters: The Representation of Nonhuman Women in Video Games” which was a taste of my approach (program available here).
My MA research in Game Studies was an examination of how discourses around various key concepts have been part of the academic study, commercial positioning, and cultural understanding of video games as a creative practice. My thesis was divided into three chapters, in which I analysed and complicate terms such as:
Immersion, engagement, presence – how these terms differ, how they are used interchangeably and why that is problematic, and why they are considered necessary for a successful game;
Identification (with the avatar) – how and if the relationship between player and avatar is characterized by subjective identification, and what that means;
Agency and interactivity – are video games really interactive? Do they actually offer agency to the player, or is it just an illusion of control? Do some video games offer a stronger sense of agency than others?
Eventually I will try to publish elements of my MA thesis. I’ll provide links here once that happens!
I completed my Honours BA in History and Religious Studies at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Although that combination suggests that I studied religious history, I actually considered my two majors as completely separate. On the Religious Studies side I focused on contemporary youth movements, spirituality, and Atheism. On the History side I wrote my Honours thesis on American cinema of the 1930s, an area I am still passionate about. I focused on the outlaw figure in Great Depression-era cinema with an emphasis on the gangster figure, both historical and cinematic, and his potential for the subversion of traditional American norms and values. This topic is what led me to study cinema at the graduate level, although I changed my mind once I started the program and decided to write my Master’s thesis on video games. I made this choice not because I don’t love gangsters anymore (I do!) but because video games are more dear to my heart and I would like to contribute to a contemporary and up-and-coming field of scholarship.
Once I completed my BA in these two majors, I (perhaps understandably) did not know what to do with my life so, being an avid traveler, I decided to move to my favourite country in the world other than my own: Italy. I fell in love with the country, the culture, the language, as well as one of its inhabitants, so I ended up staying there for two years. Eventually I decided it was time to continue my education, and now my Italian partner Jack lives with me, and our two cats, here in Toronto.
Eventually I hope to become a professor and teach at the college/university level where I can spread my obsession with video games, cinema, television, and history to future generations of scholars.
Also, these are my cats: