Theses Doctoral

“It’s Dangerous to Go Alone”: An Autoethnography of College English Students Reading Video Games as Texts

Villarreal, Benjamin

My dissertation research studies the use of video games as texts for analysis in a College English course. The purpose of the study was to see what happens when College English students are asked to engage with a video game as a class text, use their engagement with a video game to make sense of other texts, and how reader-response theory applies to making meaning of video games as texts. A secondary purpose was to study, if this transaction does take place, whether video games can support the kind of analysis required of a College English curriculum and what this curriculum might look like. I conducted this study as an autoethnography of a course designed for this purpose as the course instructor. Observing my students’ participation and analyzing their written work served as the primary data, as well as self-reflection on my own meaning-making processes. My final observations suggest that students engaged with the video game as a class text, though not more than they might have any other text; however, the nature of playing the text (and the multiple interpretations that afforded individual students) encouraged a critical reading in which students readily participated. For this reason, game choice was of paramount importance, that it might align with learning objectives but was accessible to a wide variety of prior experience with video games. Finally, a committee of department faculty deemed the majority of student work as of the quality expected for the course, suggesting video games can serve as texts for analysis that the field expects of its students. The implications of this study should inform English Education’s adaption to teaching the multiple literacies of the 21st century, as this research itself is multimodal and requires multiple literacies to read. This choice of research method and format was also meant to serve as examples of the transactions I and students experienced in the study.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Morrell, Ernest
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 4, 2018