Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gaming the System: Gender Performance in Dance Central

I'm happy to announce that my new article on gender performance in Dance Central is now available from the journal New Media & Society, published online-before-print. Once the print edition is published, I'll be permitted to post a link to a full-text version for those who don't have subscription access to the journal. Please note, this is a very short article by my standards (I struggled with the journal's strict word-count limit). I have a lot more to say about this topic in future work! Comments are very welcome.

Miller, Kiri. 2014. "Gaming the System: Gender Performance in Dance Central". New Media & Society, http://nms.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/01/21/1461444813518878 (published 9 January 2014).

Abstract This article investigates how the Dance Central game series (Harmonix Music Systems) invites and persuades players to experiment with gender performance. Dance Central uses the Xbox 360 Kinect, a motion-sensing interface, to teach players full-body dance routines set to popular club music. This study offers evidence that performative, constructivist gender theories informed the development process for these games, and explores what happens when designers enlist players in putting theory into practice. Dance Central stages visceral encounters with gendered choreography, generating both embodied gender work in the course of gameplay and reflective gender discourse in public-sphere social media. Grounded in qualitative ethnographic research that gives equal attention to interface affordances, game design, player experiences, and game-related discourse, this article offers a case study for understanding how digital media become enculturated as technologies of gender.

Keywords Dance, design, digital games, embodiment, gender, gesture, interface, kinesthesia, play, social media

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