Courtney is a Communication PhD student and game designer at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. Her doctoral research concentrates on the process of meaning-making in games tackling serious themes and exploring this relationship between player and designer in her own critical game design process. Her previous research unpacked Blizzard’s approach to community moderation in Overwatch by investigating both developer and community inputs on forums. She is a member of the mLab, a space dedicated to developing innovative methods for studying games and game players and TAG (Technoculture Arts and Games).
Games are inherently social. In the wake of MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) in the late 1970s to MMORPGs in the early 90s, playing games has been heralded as an opportunity to socialise and be social - antithetical to the usual “loner” gamer stereotype that is so pervasive in popular media. More recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, games offered a pre-existing framework for keeping in touch and hanging out with friends when regions in Canada and the U.S. were facing mandatory lockdowns and curfews to stem the infection rates. Many turned to their headsets and keyboards to play games and catch up with friends when they could not see them face-to-face. However, a caveat to being a social space, is the potential for anti-social behaviours. This is not formed in the lack of socialising, a typical tenant of being anti-social, but rather in the deploying of modes of communication to have a different kind of social “fun”.