Identity, the Avatar, and Communities in Star Wars the Old Republic and Related Digital Worlds




Fitzell, Jeffrey Michael

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It is perhaps reductive to say that identity is complex and the way we interact with technology makes it more so. In this thesis, I seek to understand how certain digital worlds affect our identities. To accomplish this goal, I conducted an ethnographic study within Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massive multi-player on-line role-playing game, where individuals create and interact with online personas. Following other research on single player worlds (Waggoner 2009), my research examines the idea of identity by splitting it into three parts the physical, the digital, and the liminal spaces between physical and digital identities. I argue that Waggoner's ideas of identity can be applied to the players of Star Wars the Old Republic. Further I suggest that the concept of projective identity (Gee 2003, Waggoner 2009) provides a productive approach for understanding how players express themselves in such a place. I contended that projective identity is what emerges from the liminal spaces between a players physical and virtual identity, and that it is created with intention and influence from both. In what follows, I first introduce the world of The Old Republic before reviewing other research on digital worlds and theories of identity specific to my project. Then I move onto cover the results of my methods reflecting on what was planned and the actual implementation. After that I present my results and discussion of them before offering some tentative conclusions.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Avatar, Identity, projective, Star Wars