Hawreliak, Jason.”Heroism, Gaming, and the Rhetoric of Immortality.” Diss. University of Waterloo, 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

Summary & Recommendation

I’ll be focusing my blog post on Chapter 6 of the dissertation where Hawreliak discusses the Terror Management Theory (TMT) and two experiments that he helped design and administer as a research assistant. I’ve chosen the focus on this chapter, because most of the dissertation is focused on close reading, however this chapter is specifically focused on a study.

Hawreliak begins with a discussion of TMT theory and a literature review to contextualize the experiments, as well as explain the purpose for using TMT theory. I felt this was useful because it illustrated the steps taken to decide why a theory was fitting in order to answer the specific research questions Hawreliak had. His focus for the analysis is on the second experiment. He writes, “the second study (E2) applied TMT to videogame analysis, and asked if playing violent videogames would lead to increased a) Death-thought accessibility, and b) Worldview defence” (310). Participants for the study were recruited from the University of Waterloo’s undergrad Psych courses and given credit for participation. Participants played two different games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Paintball 2.  Hawreliak explained the rationale for the choice of games, highlighting that both are first-person shooter games (FPS), but Call of Duty is in the context of war and death, while Paintball 2 has no depictions of death and is a friendly game of paintball. After participants had played either one of the games, or no games for 20 minutes, each was given a 17 page questionnaire on pen and paper.  The results section noted that there were not the clear results expected by the hypothesis, and the experiment was only ran once, which Hawreliak noted as a weakness of the experiment, but he said it should be “primarily viewed as an attempt to apply TMT to videogame analysis” (322).

I found the study interesting, but it seemed very crammed into one small section of the dissertation, although it seemed like it may have warranted more space. A lot of acronyms were used and were not clearly defined which made it difficult to read. While some discussion of the questionnaire was present, there wasn’t an appendix or further information about what the questionnaire contained. I found it a bit inaccessible for someone new to this kind of research and probably wouldn’t recommend it since it doesn’t even seem to be the primary focus of the dissertation as a whole. There were also some assumptions that Hawreliak made that I was uncomfortable with. He had a significant number of women in his study, and he wrote, “since men tend to be more familiar with the FPS genre than women, future iterations may want to set parameters when it comes to participant gender” (316). This seemed like a very stereotypical assumption that didn’t come from any data or sources. I was pretty disappointed with this comment and the following discussion on gender that seemed to ignore gaming statistics about female players.