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Dr Ashley Pearson
University of Sunshine Coast / Griffith University

This article interrogates the distinctions between identities of ‘players’, ‘gamers’ and ‘fans’, a difference that goes beyond a squabble over semantics but instead posits that each iteration of player, gamer, and fan is a different occupier of the legal persona. The ‘player’ avatar is the empty mask as first envisioned by positive law, the persona is a device for citizens to play their intended role on the legal stage and an abstract bundle of rights that can be accessed as needed. The masculine ‘gamer’ identity that has risen up around the use of the avatar occupies the profit-earning capacity and consumer potential of the legal avatar and the engagement of personhood in the economic world. The economic aspect of the legal avatar privileges that which men value and do, and denigrates female work, resulting in a normalised market of male labour and relation to property that is less accessible to women. The ‘fan’ occupant seeks to reform the legal mask by changing the way legal rights are narrated. By humanising and giving voice to those without the protection of the legal persona or re-structuring the world to be more reflective of themselves or a non-heteronormative paradigm, fans are able to envision alternate worlds of legality and seek to bring them to life.

Ashley Pearson is a recent PhD graduate from Griffith University. Her doctoral thesis explored the intersections of law, popular culture and medium through a cultural legal reading of the transmedial universe of Persona 4, a Japanese video game. She is interested in further pursuing scholarship on video games, fans, and their construction of law in future projects. In her spare time, she sings in an a cappella group, pretends to be a competitive Splatoon 2 player, and drinks too much bubble tea.

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