Playing the Subject

Part of the Gaming Media and Social Effects book series (GMSE)


Today identities are considered fragmented and multiple; they are ever-changing performances. However, recent discourse surrounding identity suggests the way we engage in online media can actually essentialise identities through social sorting, creating positive feedback loops and by commodifying niche communities. We illustrate our thinking by looking at examples of current online applications that are concerned with identity and investigate how artists play with and subvert these constructs by playing many selves and producing caricatures. We do this in order to advance a discourse of identity in an age of pervasive social media.


  1. Amerika, M. (2008). Making space for the artist. In M. Alexenberg (Ed.), Educating Artists for the Future (pp. 75–82). Chicago, USA: Intellect books, The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ascot, R. (1993), Paris 23/10/1993 Part 1 of 12, Retrieved June 02, 2013 from
  3. Barthes, R. (1968). The Death of the Author. Roland Barthes: Image Music Text, translated by Stephen Heath (pp. 142–149). London: Fontana Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baudrillard, J. (1988). The Ecstasy of Communication, translated by B. C. Schutze (p. 12). New York: Semiotexte.Google Scholar
  5. Breitz, C. (2003). Becoming. Film installation. Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Moving Image.Google Scholar
  6. Breitz, C. (1968–2008). Him. Film installation. Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Moving Image.Google Scholar
  7. Breitz, C. (1978–2008), Her. Film installation. Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Moving Image.Google Scholar
  8. Burke, H. (2013). Yonger than Rihanna. Rhizome. Retrieved February 07, 2018 from
  9. Butler, B. (1988). Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory, (p. 1). Retrieved June 01, 2013, from
  10. Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble. Routledge: New York.Google Scholar
  11. Collins, G. (1990). A Portraitist’s Romp Through Art History, New York Times, (p. 1). Retrieved June 01, 2013 from
  12. Doy, G. (2005). Picturing the Self: Changing Views of the Subject in Visual Culture (pp. 1–6). London: J.B Taurus.Google Scholar
  13. Flannagan, M. (2009). Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fornieles, E. (2011). Animal House. Performance artwork. London: Guest Projects.Google Scholar
  15. Fornieles, E. (2012). Dorm Daze, online Facebook performance. Facebook.Google Scholar
  16. Hjorth, L. (2013a). Frames of Discontent: Social Media, Mobile Intimacy and the Boundaries of Media Practice. In W. Macgregor & H. Koskela (Eds.), New Visualities, New Technologies: The New Ecstasy of Communication (pp. 99–118). Burlington USA: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  17. Hjorth, L. (2013b). The art of games: Machinima and the limits of art games. In J. Ng (Ed.), Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds. Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  18. Kelley, M. (1989). Foul Perfection: Thoughts on Caricature. In M. Kelley 2003 (Ed.), Foul Perfection: Essays and Criticism (pp. 20–22). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  19. Lacan, J. (1949). The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. In V. B. Leitch et al. 1997 (Eds.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  20. Light, B., Fletcher, G., & Adam, A. E. (2009). Gay men, Gaydar and the commodification of difference. Information Technology and People, 21(3), 1–3.Google Scholar
  21. Maxis (2000–current). The Sims. Various platforms. Electronic Arts.Google Scholar
  22. Maxis (1989–2013). Sim City. PC Computer Game. Electronic Arts.Google Scholar
  23. McCrae, P. (2011). Echo Chambers and Positive Feedback Loops: The Complex Nature of Echoing Voices on the Internet, Phil McCrae, (pp. 1–3). Retrieved June 01, 2013, from
  24. McNeil, J. (2012). Artist Profile: Ed Fornieles, Rhizome, Retrieved April 15, 2013, from
  25. Nunes, M. (2013). Facebook, identity and the fractal subject. In J. MacGregor & H. Koskela (Eds.), New Visualities, New Technologies: The New Ecstasy of Communication, (pp. 7–25). USA: Ashgate Publishing, Burlington.Google Scholar
  26. Peretti, J (1996). Capitalism and Schizophrenia 
Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution, Negations, Retrieved June 01, 2013, from
  27. Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play (p. 305). Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.Google Scholar
  28. Rowling, J. (1997–2007). Harry Potter. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  29. Sherman, C. (1977–1980). Untitled Film Stills, 69 black and white photographs. New York: Museum of Modern Art.Google Scholar
  30. Unknown (2013). Candice Breitz: The Character, ACMI, Retrieved June 01, 2013, from
  31. Van Zoonen, L. (2013). From identity to identification: Fixating the fragmented self. Media, Culture and Society, 35(1), 44–49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Playable Media LabRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Exertion Games LabRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations