Coming out of the Gaming Closet: Engaged Cultural Analysis and the Life-Line as Interview Method and Consciousness-Raiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article accounts for and problematizes the process and development with the research tool and method, “the Life-Line”, which we used in our project Gaming Moms. Juggling Time, Play and Everyday Life (Enevold & Hagström 2008a) to involve our informants in the production, outcome and consumption of research beyond merely being respondents to interview-questions. We propose to call the collaborative ethnography which resulted from this work “engaged cultural analysis”. The Life-Line was one out of several methods employed in the study, conducted between 2008 and 2012. It combined Feminist Cultural Analysis with Scandinavian Ethnology and Game Studies to study how gaming restructured human lives and roles, and how roles and lives were restructured according to gaming, in everyday family life. We show here, how we used the Life-Line to reconstruct the “gaming lives” of a selection of informants, to illustrate the interweaving of gaming mothers’ everyday work, play, and family life. We focused on the everyday digital playing practices of adult female gamers, because digital gaming is traditionally a highly-gendered leisure practice, dominated by male-identified gamers. By studying non-traditional gamers, “gaming moms”, the project aimed to nuance the common stereotype of the young male gamer in his bedroom and the stereotyped (non-gaming, often policing) mother, and take a measure of gender equality as regards play, work and time, in everyday life. This article, however, focuses on one of the methods used – the Life-Line. While we discuss the difficulties encountered and the remedial modifications made to our method, we also explain how this process was integral to the female players, who came out of the gaming closet to collaborate with us, realizing that they too are gamers. This newfound awareness was a significant goal of the project, and essential for the research to be engaged, an engaged cultural analysis; it enabled us to participate in creating a more equal game-cultural landscape accessible to players of all ages and genders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-44
JournalCultural Analysis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ethnology
  • Media Studies


  • Life-Line
  • Engaged Cultural Analysis
  • interviews
  • game studies
  • ethnology
  • collaborative ethnography
  • mothers
  • feminist methods
  • Method development
  • gender
  • gamer identities
  • qualitative research
  • Feminist Theory


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