Let’s Play in the Public Sphere of Bilibili: Constructing a Playful Discursive Space for Gender Politics in China
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Let's Play videos are records of playing-through of games with the player's personal annotations. They provide a new channel for game enthusiasts and potential game enthusiasts to achieve an entertaining gaming experience. The public video-sharing sites where the LP videos are published become platforms for the playful practices that host the LP format. In such a public platform, the public participates in a diverse discourse and discusses social issues. The LP videos posted on the Chinese video site Bilibili have attracted a large audience due to their playfulness and the diverse personalities of the LPers. In addition, LP videos may have a specific potential to contribute to Bilibili as a digital public sphere in China due to the content of the games presented in the LP videos and the comments added by LPers. In this thesis, building on the three-dimensional model proposed by Fariclough (1992), I discuss and analyse how LP video in China has contributed to the construction of a public sphere that accommodates gender political issues, starting from the intersection of the fields of gaming and gender politics. In the first chapter, the Chinese Otome games represented by Light and Night will be analysed as texts, and the patriarchal hegemonic frameworks, binary gender divisions and sexist gender norms embedded in the Otome games will be analysed. In the second chapter, several discursive practices in the form of LPs will be used as case studies to analyse how LP videos perform a rebellion against patriarchal hegemony in the society that the game texts fail to achieve. In the third chapter, online groups created by female game enthusiasts and the discussions and activities that take place within them will be analysed as social practices to explore the extent to which the practices that emerge from the intersection of gender politics and games challenge the patriarchal framework in Chinese society.