Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Michelle Carr



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Amanda Edgar

Committee Member

Christi Moss

Committee Member

Craig Stewart

Committee Member

Robby Byrd


Previous research in game studies has indicated a strong link between identity and video games, with the gamer identity serving as an especially contentious and hotly debated example. This identity has been rejected by avid players and questioned in terms of its gendered and racialized associations. Mobile games open up video games to new articulations of the player identity by diversifying the kinds of audiences that have access to their modes of play. However, mobile games are often dismissed by players and academics alike as frivolous and unimportant, despite mobile gaming comprising a significant portion of the video game industry. In this dissertation, I argue that value in mobile games is constructed in a way that complicates the construction of a gaming identity. Combining an analysis of the mobile game Pokmon GO and an audience study of self-identified mobile game players, I further argue that mobile games pre-constitute specific audiences that are always already fans of the game, while audiences tend to incorporate mobile games into their extant identities. Rhetorically, mobile games blur the edges of the magic circle through their procedures. Through this rhetoric, they center a rhetoric of strength. In doing so, mobile games adopt an aesthetic of casual play but a rhetoric of hardcore play. Mobile games also construct a certain audience through their procedures, one that has economic capital and geographic mobility, one that is ideologically cosmopolitan, and one that is always already a fan of the game. A games rhetoric does not fully determine the audience approach to using and enjoying the game. The audiences I interviewed enjoy playing their mobile games but also experience a certain degree of shame when investing in them. Mobile game players are willing to play in ways that resemble hardcore play but are reluctant to adopt a fan identity in relation to their games. Because mobile games are broadly understood to be casual in nature, they are not taken as seriously and not constructed to have as much value as hardcore games among the gaming community, and, in fact, their value must not be seen to exceed similar console games. Therefore, value and identity in mobile games are connected by how the game is legitimated in the games procedures and in the eyes of the player.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest