Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Gillian M. Smith, Advisor

Identifier

etd-3951

Abstract

This study explores gender modeling specifically in avatar creation tools through the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. The design of systems is often limited by the experiences of those who build them. In the video game industry; this means that systems are often designed by white, cisgender, heterosexual men. This demographic does not represent the wealth of people who play games and are subjected to these systems. The needs of marginalized communities, especially queer communities, in terms of affordances and representation tend to be overlooked or forgotten. This issue is apparent in avatar creation tools which define the types of bodies and identities that are allowable in the world of the game. Using Brenda Laurel’s research driven design tactics, modifications to Final Fantasy XIV’s current system were realized through a paper prototype and constant input from a group of self-identifying queer players. Both the feedback from these queer players and the modifications made to the prototype were condensed into a series of suggestions for the creators of these tools. Ultimately, I discovered that there are three key features which vastly improve the affordances of character creators for queer players; the inclusion of pronoun identification, the identification of gender identity, and the separation of both of these options from the character’s physical appearance. Designers who implement these findings in their work will contribute to creating environments that support queer identities.

Publisher

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name

MS

Department

Interactive Media and Game Development

Project Type

Thesis

Date Accepted

2020-05-18

Accessibility

Unrestricted

Subjects

Gender, Final Fantasy XIV, Queer studies, Game studies, Avatar Creation Tools

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