Sonja C Sapach, PhD Candidate in Sociology and Humanities Computing
The University of Alberta
Sonja C Sapach is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta. Her current research focuses on exploring the mediation and potential resolution of alienation through an autoethnographic exploration of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and participation in video game culture. Drawing on an interdisciplinary background in Psychology and Social and Political Thought, she combines detailed theory analysis with personal experiences revealed through “let’s play” style video recordings to describe how video game play allows us to cope with trauma, safely explore our identities, and develop social connections through shared meaning creation beyond the boundaries of real-world social and political discourse.
Learning to be Human in the “Post-Truth-Ish” Worlds of Video Games
I love logic, science, and objective facts. Unfortunately, a childhood filled with ongoing trauma led me to embrace objective facts with an almost unhealthy fervour. In a world that made no sense, I desperately sought logical, scientific, objective answers to rationalize my constant fear. Emotions were something to be feared and the only way that I could feel safe was through a logical, objective, robotic lens. Fortunately, I found solitude in the ‘post-truth- ish’ world of video games. Video games provided me with the freedom to think and act emotionally, subjectively, without fear. I could experiment with my identity, openly embrace new experiences, and freely talk about those experiences with other people. Utilizing a series of “let’s play” clips from my autoethnographic research, this talk will draw a parallel between my own experiences, and society’s embrace of post-truth in digital media, an embrace that seems to reflect a powerful need to recapture feelings of subjective power, meanings, and identities in a world filled with objective trauma. The insularity reflected in the notion of ‘post-truth’ demonstrates a need to belong, to make sense of a complex and traumatic existence, to find a place and an identity.