Date

2018

Department or Program

Anthropology

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Deborah Matzner

Abstract

Conducted over the course of a year and 6 months, E-boys and E-girls is an ethnography of online communities, particularly the League of Legends gaming communities. League of Legends is a highly competitive and team-work orientated game that forces people from around the world to communicate with each other. As players want to find others to game with consistently, online communities have formed out of necessity. Through interactions with the men and women, e-boys and e-girls, on one such community, I have come to observe persisting and rigid norms regarding gender performance and interaction. Even though people have the ability to be whomever, whatever gender or age, they want through the anonymity of the internet, those in the community choose to not only reveal their gender and conform to gender performances not unlike those described in Deborah Tannen’s “You Just Don’t Understand.” Instead of participating in identity play, members choose to reproduce existing norms in the offline world. Additionally, I explore those that intentionally, and unintentionally, challenge these norms within the community such as Catfishers, those that hide their gender or identity for profit, Transgender members, those that cannot be categorized under the current heteronormative structure of the online community.

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