This thesis explores the agentic potential of gaming practices for young people. Manuel Castells’ (1996) theory of the network society helps to illuminate how online games typify the logic of neoliberal capitalism in the ways games are produced, marketed, and consumed. But games also exemplify the meaningful forms of bottom-up participatory practices enabled by the current socioeconomic and sociotechnical conditions that underlie the network society. Using Minecraft as the site of inquiry, the thesis takes a critical ethnographic approach to a case study to describe and analyze how and for what purpose young people take up gaming. It concludes by arguing that even the everyday forms of gaming practices can be agentic by enabling young people to take up meaningful practices and competencies in relation to identity, gender, learning, and sociality, despite the capitalist logic that heavily shapes young people's media landscape.
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Thesis advisor: Poyntz, Stuart
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