Graduate student Julia Lange has recently been awarded the Student Research Grant from the Center for the Education for Women (CEW) to support her summer graduate work in San Diego, California. Lange’s fieldwork involves studying casual video game nights at bars, such as Rock Band or classic video game Atari nights. Lange is particularly interested in ethnographic and historical perspectives on casual video game play in third places, especially as it relates to community and socializing.
“Third places,” a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, represent public spaces distinct from first places (home) and second places (work) where people voluntarily go to meet, interact, and enjoy time with others. To examine the interactions during video game nights at bars (a form of the social gatherings Oldenburg discusses), Lange will be doing fieldwork at eight potential sites in the greater San Diego area, all of which hold casual video game nights on a weekly basis.
Over the course of a month, Lange aims to “unpack the social dimensions of casual video games in bar settings and the way the introduction of these games redefine understandings of community.” Lange also plans to include autoethnographic work to “explore the challenges women ethnographers face when conducting research in bar settings.” Primary questions Lange hopes to answer include: given the wide appeal of casual video game play for adults and children across a wide array of age and genders, what can we learn about the social dimensions of video game play in bars? What is different about playing video games in homes and in bars? How does gender come into play in the social and communal aspects of casual video game nights? Will the eight sites selected vary demographically from the others, or will they share certain characteristics or populations? What does it mean to be a woman at a video game bar night, and especially, a woman researcher?
The CEW Student Research Grant provides funding for student-designed, student-conducted academic research on topics related to gender and women’s studies, with awards geared toward University of Michigan graduate and upper division undergraduate students completing dissertation or thesis research. CEW Student Research Grants are available on an on-going basis until annual funding has been expended. For more information about other CEW funding opportunities, visit their webpage.