contemporary gamer persona

Not all personas belong to individuals, places, objects or organisations. Some personas are performed by a range of texts, images, and otherwise unconnected instances that are more than tropes and stereotypes. 

In this video, I’m going to introduce you to Tomkinson and Elliott’s account of the gamer persona, specifically as it is imagined and enacted by [G Fuel].

[Tomkinson, Sian and Elliott, Jordana 2020 Hype Source: G Fuel’s Contemporary Gamer Persona and its Navigation of Prestige and Diversity, Persona Studies. Vol, 6. No 2., ]

G Fuel is an energy drink manufactured in various formats and advertised by a range of social media influencers and entertainers typically associated with ‘gaming’.

Tomkinson and Elliot argue that the result is more than just marketing and branding, but a persona that has actively reimagined the gamer as an ‘athletic activity’ requiring mental and physical energy, connected to others in an exciting and glamorous lifestyle. 

They argue that: [“The contemporary gamer persona signals that there has been a shift in the popular discourses surrounding the ‘gamer’ identity in specific gaming micro-publics.” (p. 22)].

In this context, [Gamma Labs], has been able to form partnerships with micro-celebrities to appeal to a large global audience, negotiating between a commitment to diversity and controversial influencer figures.

It’s important to note that this ‘contemporary gamer persona’ identified by Tomkinson and Elliot is a very successful marketing and PR operation that exists in a post [‘Gamergate’] media landscape.

I’m going to add some resources on Gamergate to the learning platform for your reading, and I want to point to it as another kind of gamer persona but I don’t want to go into detail in this video:

Braithwaite, Andrea 2016. ‘It’s About Ethics in Games Journalism?’. Gamergaters and Geek Masculinity. Social Media + Society. October-December 1-10. 

Massanari, Adrienne 2017. #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society. Vol 19. No. 3 pp 329 – 346.

[G Fuel is a multimodal and transmedia brand.]

The product itself comes in different packaged forms  – [a powder, a liquid and a candied ‘energy crystal]’ and these feature strongly in the mediatisation of the gamer persona and the trademarked slogan [“The Official Energy Drink of Esports.”]

Esports is a massive social media entertainment industry that prior to the global pandemic had a very popular physical presence but has maintained its interest online via sites like Twitch TV. 


Tomkinson and Elliot argue that the contemporary gamer persona is a collective performance of G Fuel and its more than sixty partnerships with influencers, gamers and athletes.

G Fuel is not limited to Epsort and is also associated with a number of contentious ‘gamer’ micro-celebrities.

Tomkinson and Elliot point out the controversial nature of the game persona is more than #gamergate but a long history in which the label of ‘gamer’ is associated with an affluent cultural identity and capacity for social capital and leisure time. They argue that historically the gamer persona has been largely represented by the media as being aggressive, young, heterosexual, white and male – despite more than a decade of research that points to the average gamer as being middle-aged women of diverse backgrounds. As the authors note:

“Indeed, in the US, UK, and Australia, women comprise around half of all players, and the average age of gamers is increasing (ESA 2020; Brand et al. 2020; Borowiecki & Bakhshi 2017).” P23.

The authors argue that G Fuel’s persona construction is mediatised by both its corporate [web presence] and its network of prestigious and diverse sponsored influencers. 

They provide a detailed textual analysis of the G Fuel website and the ways that Gamma Labs uses discourses of [health and athleticism] to frame their product in opposition to other energy drink brands. 

Using the representation of esports as a professional lifestyle the site lists “UFC fighters, eSports athletes, bodybuilders, skateboarders, YouTube stars, fitness models, and even NFL players” as key consumers.

Gamma Labs then builds on the representational strategies of the website by making alliances with social media entertainers and influencers to present themselves publicly as part of an elite collective of G Fuel partners – as part of the Team Gamma.

These micro-celebrities operate across Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and many other social media platforms. 

Tomkinson and Elliot highlight G Fuels relationship with the esports organisation [FaZe Clan] – a team of professional gamers, with its own persona, brand and merchandising which they argue maintains: “… elements of the classic gamer in the sense that those who are male and highly dedicated to the hobby more easily gain legitimacy compared to women and minorities, as well as those who have a more relaxed attitude to gaming, play less often, or play so-called “casual” games.” (p.27)

Prestige is an important part of the FaZe clan contribution to the G Fuel contemporary gamer persona enabling a connection to a brand that is based on the representation of the individual as  “competitive, high-performing, dedicated, and stylish gamers that distance themselves from geekery”.

Tomkinson and Elliot’s analysis takes a close look at the value and reputation of the [YouTuber Keemstar] (Daniel Keem) who is known for being inflammatory and aggressive confrontational content on his channel DramaAlert. 

Keemstar’s own persona is highly controversial but arguably as successful as FaZe clan but it is a persona that seems to thrive on transgression and controversy to maximise his influence. 

Despite damage to his reputation with ongoing incidents and transgressions, G Fuel did not officially terminate their association with Keemstar but they did remove his products and merchandise from their store. 

FaZe, PewDiePie and Keemstar have all had controversies that seem to contribute to the rebellious and contentious characteristics that now express values associated with the contemporary gamer persona – however as [Tomkinson and Elliot] note: 

“Gamma Labs presents itself as being aware of women’s underrepresentation and poor treatment in multiplayer spaces, esports, game development and publishing, journalism, and content creation.

 G Fuel’s website contains a blog section that regularly publishes a “Women of G Fuel” series, consisting of interviews with female content creators. 

These interviews offer insightful details into the history and lives of women streamers, specifically how and when they started gaming, and what obstacles linked to their gender they have faced in their journey.

The Twitch streamer [NoisyButters] – Hannah Bryan – joined the G Fuel collective in 2020 with an official flavour ‘Star Fruit’ which is an interesting way to see the relationship between brand, product and persona. 

NoisyButter’s persona is associated with positivity and happiness, rather than the edgy humour of PewDiePie, the contentious drama of KeemStar and the esports higher competitiveness of FaZe clan:

[“By avoiding stigma and controversy, NoisyButters creates value for her persona through playing mainstream titles such as Call of Duty with great attention to game mechanics, and establishing a strong reputation through her consistent affirmance of personal values such as “positivity” and “happiness”.” ]

So to conclude, I recommend taking a look at the article and some of the other papers cited in it, to see the way the contemporary gamer persona has been largely legitimized by public male figures. And the way that it has become clear that the gamer persona is in a continuous flux because it is contributed to by a collective, which means a greater opportunity for further diversity and a range of representations that are starting to afford women and minorities better degrees of attention and respect. 

Thanks for playing.

BCM215 Game Media (Industries) Week One

Week one of a new subject in the Digital and Social Media major in the Bachelor of Communication and Media at the University of Wollongong.


This subject investigates the emergence of digital game cultures as a key element of the global creative economy. We analyse games from the perspectives of both players and industries, situating them within a continuum of human play activities and examining the trajectory of the commercial games industry from early forms of console gaming to contemporary forms, such as apps, eSports, board games and live streaming. In addition to covering topical issues such as violence in video games and game censorship, students will acquire practical skills in game media production by collaborating on a digital artefact specific to the game industries.

BCM325 Future Cultures: Why Science Fiction?

BCM325 Future Cultures is a third-year subject in the major of Digital and Social Media, which is one of five majors in the Bachelor of Communication and Media. Previously the subject was called ‘Cyberculture’ and had a very techno-social focus, with an emphasis on regulation and policy. My revisions for the subject have responded to the attention that digital, social and emergent media already receives in earlier subjects in the major and even subjects in the core subjects of degree, after all these are ‘the’ media that graduates will be working, in, with and around. Future Cultures has been refocussed around the primary goal of challenging students to think about the future across three time scales: the short-term, the medium-term and the long-term. The subject has a student blog, which students contribute to here.

As the major is going to be offered across multiple campuses including Wollongong, Hong Kong, South West Sydney and Dubai over the next few years, I have transitioned to a blended learning approach, which provides the lecture material in a series of online videos. My approach to the three-hour face-to-face seminar time mixes a little of the old and a little of the new. One of my favourite experiences as an undergraduate was the screenings of movies that I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to or had the opportunity to view. Student’s today have more access to this type of content but don’t often choose to watch it. Similarly, classroom discussion in traditional tutorial mode is often hampered by an increased level of student anxiety, and less available time to prepare and do the background readings and research that would help them to speak from an informed position. Our students, however, are encouraged to use Twitter during their first-year lectures, deploying the hashtags #BCM112 and #BCM110 to develop their sense of a cohort and engage with the content, using memes, gifs and the obligatory shitposting.

Enter live Tweeting. One of my favourite experiences at academic conferences is the ‘backchannel’ conversations and coverage that comes from the rapid live tweeting of speakers and presentations. Similarly, some of the most interesting Twitter threads emerge from the live tweeting of events and especially from fans participating in the coverage of their favourite shows. Live tweeting is not an easy skill to develop, it requires advanced practices in note taking, listening and the ability to distil information rapidly, and in such a way that it contributes to the understanding of those not physically present. Even if students don’t go on to continue using Twitter, and many don’t, it is a valuable process that supports student learning, and confidence in engaging in real-time analysis, research and critical conversation that will be useful to their future careers in the media and communication industries.

This brings me to science fiction. Over the course of the session, students engage in the live tweeting of science fiction movies from the previous one hundred years. Beginning with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, moving through Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, both Blade Runners, the original animated Ghost in the Shell, and ending with Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime. The point is to consider the way the future has been represented in the past and to contemplate the tension between the representation of the future and its reality. Students must tweet during the screening, using the #BCM325 hashtag and are assessed on their ability to engage with each other and outsiders, who often comment on the live tweeting stream, and make sense of the films for a public audience.

In the above video, I explain why we are using Science Fiction to think about the future in more detail, drawing very briefly on the work of two SF scholars, Istvan Cicsery-Ronay and Darko Suvin.

Future Cultures

It is a new year and a new semester, and I have been busy writing a new set of lectures for BCM325 Future Cultures.

As this subject is going to be available across four campuses over the next couple of years, in Wollongong, Hong Kong, South West Sydney and Dubai, I’ve elected to record them as video lectures.

I’ve been learning Final Cut Pro, but have been screen capturing from Prezi for the time being.

This is the Week One introductory lecture:
And a short guide to Live Tweeting, our seminar activity:

Two colleagues from the University of Wollongong Library, Michael Organ and Rebecca Daly, will be presenting our peer-reviewed paper on the virtual Yellow House pilot project at the VALA2016 conference this week in Melbourne. Owen Godfrey (@Cider3dPrinter) put together these two short videos to give a quick demonstration of the simulation and how it looks on screen and in the Oculus Rift.




taking entrepreneurship seriously

Australia is a stagnant nation, politically, socially, technologically and intellectually and it is really OK to admit this. We have great ideas, great talent, and an amazing environment that our creatives, experts, innovators and risk-takers have to leave in order to be successful more often than they should and more often that is healthy for those of us who remain. Our political ‘leaders’ on all sides have failed to understand, plan and build for this, and we need only look to the NBN for evidence; a world class national broadband network that would propel our little creative nation into the future was abandoned, settling for second sixteenth sixty fourth best because it’s too expensive, too hard, too politically messy to do better.

Wollongong is a city with a great deal of potential and the University of Wollongong is a university of students, academics and professional staff who all punch well above their budgets. I will excuse that mangled fighting cliche by doubling down on it and suggesting that ‘we’ are not prepared, as Ronda Rousey says (UFC women’s champion visiting Australia this week), to be a ‘do-nothing-bitch’. I’m obviously stepping out of the gender politics of that statement in order to appropriate the core elements of Rousey’s straightforward philosophy here to argue that we are not going to sit back and let others take care of our future and the challenges that will we face. We are not going to do nothing, but what are we going to do?

This is a crucial question for students graduating this year, and the next, and the year after. The only consistency we are going to face in the future is massive change and to be prepared for that means taking charge, forming networks, and solving problems. This includes divesting ourselves of the idea that the fields, industries and businesses that students anticipate working in, and being employed in, will be as stable (or present) as they were in the past. This is already the case for the students in Media and Communication  and Journalism degrees, witnessing firsthand the transformation of journalism, and is only a matter of time for others in the Creative Arts, Health, Science, Law, Engineering, and so on. Even if the disruption isn’t as massive, it will still require an appropriate response. Failure to change and adapt is failure (see our previous PM). The result is that we need to take student entrepreneurship seriously. Entrepreneurship isn’t something to aspire to following an undergraduate degree, it’s something that needs to become fundamental to what undergraduates, at least in the Creative Industries, must be aware of, embrace and experiment with.

This was my reaction following my first experience of Creative3, the QUT Creative Enterprise Australia annual forum, in Brisbane this week. Celebrating ideas and innovation, the line-up of entrepreneurs was exciting, passionate and creative yet almost entirely lacking in real radical thinking. There were very impressive success stories in business, retail, marketing, social media and new product dimensions; like the Shoes of Prey’s online shopping returning to bricks and mortar stores with their design-a-shoe product service; QxBranch’s quantum analytics of rocket science; and Bonza’s approach to user generated culture; but all of these are applications are iterations of innovations that originate elsewhere, and are perhaps most notable for their ability to attract investors (this is not a bad thing). As a side note it was interesting to hear of Brisbane’s last major game studio, Halfbrick, becoming a YouTube content producer, as their game ‘designers’ are let go following the department of Fruit Ninja’s primary developer Luke Muscat. Maybe games companies do need to stop thinking of themselves as content creators in only one medium, but that is not an excuse to endlessly recycle ideas and turn every game success into a animated YouTube series. Perhaps I am a little jealous that QUT students will get to potentially contribute content with Halfbrick retaining editorial control, and presumably the donated copyrights, but as one attendee noted with concern, that if the student’s work goes unpaid when it supports a revenue stream, then that is a textbook case of exploitation.

The most impressive presentation for me was Thea Baumann, the creative technologist and CEO of Metaverse Makeovers, and the augmented reality product Metaverse Nails, which uses QR codes and AR technology to produce interactive adhesive nails, which are pure cyberglam. What sounds like a gimmick is a triumph of 2D (if nail surfaces can be thought of as a flat dimension) and 3D design, app design and manufacturing. Metaverse Nails are a glimpse into the future of a world enhanced by virtual and augmented realities, but Thea’s presentation gave me that real mind blown feeling as she recounted the challenges in taking her ideas to Japan and China. She reminded us that while everyday Chinese internet users might be able to move around the firewall, this is not the case for businesses, particularly those working internationally. Perhaps most the powerful challenge to the Australian innovation ecology was the acceptance of China as a copycat culture and the need to let go of intellectual property concerns when trying to compete in the amazing technoculture of shanzhai, in which copyright and intellectual property means nothing and risk, speed, creativity, innovation, and expertise is everything. I’m also very fond of the Metaverse Nails as unsuccessful crowdfunded project, having first hand. experience of the intensive demands and extensive peer-to-peer networking involved in that model of investment.

Entrepreneurship isn’t just about business, investment and selling products, services and ideas, or at least we can’t keep imagining it to be so. Take the fictional lemonade stand that is often the case study, it’s not that we need to make the ‘ultimate lemonade experience’, as affective marketing trends and agencies might suggest, but rather we need to cut through the jargon, the trending patterns, the bad data visualisation and the elitism of investment culture, to make entrepreneurial options possible for students as effective and long lasting career choices. Business, investment and entrepreneurial culture, like political culture, is yet to properly address the problems facing us a nation, let alone a globe, and it is yet to stop treating sustainability as a buzzword. Dealing with climate change isn’t going to be a marketable ‘experience’,  it’s going to be painful, and it’s going to require risk.

What business and innovation culture can teach us is not to fear failure. Failure is the engine of innovation, and it was very reassuring to hear this message repeated throughout the event, perhaps most notably by CSIRO ‘strategy’ scientist Stefan Hajkowicz (@stefanhajkowicz) as the most necessary element of creative innovation, whether it be the next great product or marketing idea or whether it be in addressing the real challenges that entrepreneurs need to contribute to tackling from climate change, aging and over populations, to microbial drug-resistance, ocean acidity, disruptive technologies and refugee support. With the future of steel in real doubt in the Illawarra, the question is not what jobs graduates will be eligible for in the future, but what careers, products, and services will they create to employ, retrain, and support and how to best insure a successful strategies in funding, investment and innovation to meet these needs. We need more innovators like Shen Narayanasamy.

Check out Refractory a Journal of Entertainment Media, Volume 25, 2015

Themed Issue: Eye-Tracking the Moving Image

Guest Edited by Sean Redmond & Craig Batty

‘In a landmark special edition of Refractory, guest editors Sean Redmond and Craig Batty draw together articles that examine – from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives – how eye tracking can be employed to make better critical sense of the moving image. From discussions of Up! and Saving Private Ryan, to translation, subtitling and text; and from the cold eyes of Sherlock to the affecting sounds of war, the articles draw upon eye tracking data to see deeper into the moving image’.


1.  Seeing into Things: Eye Tracking the Moving Image – Sean Redmond & Craig Batty

2.  Movement, Attention and Movies: the Possibilities and Limitations of Eye Tracking? – Adrian G. Dyer & Sarah Pink

3.  How We Came To Eye Tracking Animation: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Researching the Moving Image –  Craig Batty, Claire Perkins & Jodi Sita

4.  Sound and Sight: An Exploratory Look at Saving Private Ryan through the Eye-tracking Lens – Jenny Robinson, Jane Stadler & Andrea Rassell

5.  Subtitles on the Moving Image: An Overview of Eye Tracking Studies – Jan Louis Kruger, Agnieszka Szarkowska & Izabela Krejtz

6.  From Subtitles to SMS: Eye-Tracking, Texting and Sherlock – Tessa Dwyer

7.  Our Sherlockian Eyes: the Surveillance of Vision – Sean Redmond, Jodi Sita, & Kim Vincs

8.  Politicizing Eye-tracking Studies of Film – William Brown

9.  Read, Watch, Listen: A commentary on eye tracking and moving images – Tim J. Smith

Serres, time travel and the Gothic in science fiction

Three new postgraduate students to co-supervise this year. The first I’ve caught up with so far is a Creative Arts students writing a science fiction novel. The exegesis for the thesis will focus on the Gothic in science fiction and to kick the process off, we will be working on an analysis of the Gothic in the Mass Effect series. The aim is to prepare an article for a games studies or the science fiction studies journal, and to contribute to the formation of an emerging research group on technology and science fiction studies at Deakin. In doing some fresh research I came across a great article by Laura Salisbury on Michel Serres, time travel and gothic SF. It’s a cracking read and coincides with the material I’m working on using Serres concept of quasi-objects to analyse the use of screenshots in participatory gamer cultures (to adopt Joost Raessen’s term).