SSU student researches video game characters and their effects for Celebration of Scholarship

PORTSMOUTH — Erin Rice, a recent graduate of Shawnee State University (hometown: South Shore, KY), attended last year’s Celebration of Scholarship (COS) conference to share her research for of his English and social studies classes. Majoring in English with a concentration in Culture and Media Studies, Rice’s work explored Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze in video games.

“My research focused on the theory that cultural artifacts in video games are created to meet the needs of heterosexual men,” Rice said. “For example, everyone knows Princess Peach from Nintendo’s Mario games. She is portrayed as a damsel in distress – Mario constantly rescues her. This is aimed at heterosexual men since the woman (Peach) is nothing without the man (Mario).

Rice used characters from different games from different cultures to complete her project. She selected games featuring three different countries – Poland, America and Japan – to show that the male gaze is prevalent across the globe. To prepare for her COS presentation, her goal was to select female characters from popular games that people could recognize.

Rice worked closely with Dr. Marc Scott throughout the research process. She found his comments helpful in informing her project.

“Dr. Scott was the best mentor I could have asked for,” she said. “I was constantly sending him codes and explaining my thought process to him. He was ready to give me feedback on every step of my project.

Looking back on her experience at the conference last year, Rice found the work essential to her development as a student at SSU.

“That experience has become such an essential part of my time in Shawnee,” Rice said. “It helped me realize that I had some important ideas to add to an overall academic picture. I didn’t think I could say anything that would add anything to the conversation of the male gaze, and yet I was able to do so through the Celebration of Scholarship experience.

Rice encourages fellow SSU students to consider attending this year’s Celebration of Scholarship conference and try their luck presenting their own research.

“I would advise students not to give up,” she said. “There were many times when I felt like I wasn’t going in the direction my research was supposed to go. Once I got over my doubts, I was able to think clearly and achieve what I wanted.

SSU’s COS conference brings together undergraduate and graduate programs from different colleges on campus to deliver academic presentations showcasing their personal academic research. Work presented at the conference focuses on student research in their field, creative work in the visual and performing arts, community service, and study abroad. This year’s COS conference will take place the week of April 4 in a hybrid format.

To learn more about the upcoming Shawnee State University Scholarship Celebration Conference, visit shawnee.edu/cos.

Erin Rice used characters from different games from different cultures to complete her project. She selected games featuring three different countries – Poland, America and Japan – to show that the male gaze is prevalent across the globe. To prepare for her COS presentation, her goal was to select female characters from popular games that people could recognize.


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