Please email me at kellybergstrom at gmail dot com for a PDF of my full (and up to date) CV
Updated December 2018
Assistant Professor (August 2017 – current)
School of Communications, University of Hawai’i at M?noa
MITACS Postdoctoral Research Intern (Jan 2017 – June 2017)
Big Viking Games
Postdoctoral Researcher (Sept 2015 – June 2017)
Institute for Research on Digital Learning, York University
Sessional Instructor (May 2015 – April 2017)
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology
Language, Culture and Teaching (Faculty of Education)
Dissertation: To play or not to play: Non/participation in EVE Online
Drawing on literature from leisure studies to articulate a framework for exploring barriers/constraints to leisure activities and theoretically informed by feminist theories of technology, I conducted an Internet-based survey to capture the thoughts and experiences of current, former, and non-EVE players. A total of 981 participants completed the survey. In my analysis of open-ended responses, I found that current players described the game in a way that emphasized its exceptionality, relied heavily on jargon, and assumed their reader was already familiar with EVE, its player community, and its surrounding norms and conventions. Non-players who were familiar with the game described their perceptions of EVE being an unwelcoming community meant they had opted out of playing without ever downloading the trial. Former players fell into three groupings: ex-players who had permanently quit EVE, a group who want to play but felt forced to take a temporary break due to external constraints (e.g. exams at school or financial limitations), and a third group would consider returning if changes to their personal circumstances and/or the game happened in future. Ultimately this research complicates what it means to play or not play MMOG, opening up avenues for future research about how access and barriers to digital game play inevitably shift over time.
Communication & Culture (Faculty of Communication)
University of Calgary
Thesis: Adventuring Together: Exploring how Romantic Couples use MMOs as Part of Their Shared Leisure Time
BA Hons. (2007)
Communication (School of Communication)
Simon Fraser University
Honours Thesis: Social Capital in MMORPGs: A Framework for Future Studies
Visual Art (School for Contemporary Arts)
Simon Fraser University
Visiting Student (Jan-May 2006)
Konst, kultur och kommunikation [Art, Culture, and Communication] Malmö Högskola, Sweden
Refereed Journal Articles
Bergstrom, K. (online before print). Moving Beyond Churn: Barriers and Constraints to Playing a Social Network Game. Games and Culture, x(x) . [LINK][Contact me for PDF]abstract
Social network games (SNGs) are genre of casual games that require being logged into a social networking site (e.g., Facebook) to access the gameworld. To date, investigations of these games are typically focused on the rate of attrition or “churn,” reinforcing the idea that SNG players exist to make the developer money rather than participating in a game they derive pleasure from. Seeking to recenter the player in research about SNGs, this article reports on a survey of former players (N = 147) who were queried about their reason(s) for no longer participating in YoWorld, a Facebook-based SNG. Findings indicate that players typically quit because of external constraints to their leisure time rather than no longer interested in the game, which are not barriers to play that can be overcome by personalized in-game incentives, the typical developer response to prevent churn from taking place.
Bergstrom, K. (online before print). Barriers to play: accounting for non-participation in digital game play. Feminist Media Studies, x(x) 1-17. [LINK][Contact me for PDF]abstract
Playing a digital game is considered to be a leisure activity; therefore playing or not playing is typically viewed as an autonomous choice motivated by individual preferences for how one spends their time not occupied by other obligations. While a growing body of interventionist literature documents new entry points for girls and women into playing or making games, investigations are primarily focused on joining rather than why someone might ultimately leave. To address this gap whereby the study of former and non-players remains under explored, I bring together two disparate areas of academic investigation: leisure studies, specifically the study of barriers and access to leisure spaces, and critical feminist games scholarship. Taken together, these two areas of investigation provide a framework to account for why women might leave a game or never begin playing in the first place. Rather than assuming that playing or not playing is exclusively about choice or interest, I argue that there is much to be learned by asking women about what games they do not play and their reasons for quitting or never purchasing or downloading a particular game in the first place.
Bergstrom, K., Jenson, J., de Castell, S., & Taylor, N. (2017). “Virtually Together: Examining Pre-Existing Relationships in MMOG Play” Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. 10(2) 1-16.[LINK]abstract
Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have been a fruitful venue to study social interactions ranging from small temporary groups, to larger more permanent in-game social collectives such as guilds or clans. Much of this literature is focused on strangers becoming friends through MMOG play; comparatively, little is known about gameplay-based interactions between pre-existing romantic couples. To address that gap, this paper describes the methods used and subsequent results of an empirical investigation of the in-game actions and collaborations between couple and non-couple pairings as they played the MMOG RIFT. In our attempts to determine if couples display distinctive in-game behaviors, we found that players with a pre-existing relationship (friendship or romantic) behave in a similar manner while playing together. However, our findings indicate that avatar proximity is the key to distinguishing whether this pre-existing relationship is platonic or romantic in nature.
Bergstrom, K. (2017). “An Unwelcome Intrusion? Player Responses to Survey Research Recruitment on the World of Warcraft Forums”. Loading… The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association. 10(16) 15-31. [LINK]abstract
Internet discussion forums provide convenient opportunities to recruit survey participants, but how do the everyday users of these sites feel about these requests? Using the official forums of a popular Massively Multiplayer Online Game (World of Warcraft) as a site of inquiry, this article investigates interactions between researchers and potential survey participants. Drawing on player reactions to the 163 survey requests posted to the World of Warcraft forums between December 2010 and April 2015, this article outlines the concerns raised by forum participants (including fears of account theft and critiques of survey design) and provides evidence this particular online community is suffering from survey fatigue. After highlighting these points of tension between players and researchers, the article concludes with a set of suggested best practices for future interactions with this particular online community.
Bergstrom, K. (online before print). “Temporary Break or Permanent Departure? Rethinking what it means to quit EVE Online”. Games and Culture. x(x) 1-21. [LINK][contact me for PDF] abstract
Bergstrom, K., Fisher, S., & Jenson, J. (2016). “Disavowing ‘That Guy’
Identity construction and massively multiplayer online game players”. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 22(3) 233-249. doi:10.1177/1354856514560314 [LINK] [contact me for PDF] abstract
Bergstrom, K., Jenson, J., Hydomako, R., & de Castell, S. (2015). “The keys to success: Supplemental measures of player expertise in Massively Multiplayer Online Games”. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds. 7(1). 101-121. [LINK] [PDF]abstract
Taylor, N., Bergstrom, K., Jenson, J., & de Castell, S. (2015). “Alienated Playbour: Relations of Production in EVE Online”. Games and Culture. 10(4) 365-388. doi:10.1177/1555412014565507 [LINK] abstract
Bergstrom, K. (2011). “Don’t feed the troll: Shutting down debate about community expectations on Reddit.com”. First Monday. 16(8). [LINK] abstract
Carter, M., Bergstrom, K. & Woodford, D. (eds.) Internet Spaceships are Serious Business: An EVE Online Reader. University of Minnesota Press. [LINK]
Bergstrom, K. “Everything I know about this game suggests I should avoid it at all costs: Non-player perceptions about EVE Online”. (2016). In Kafai, Y., Tynes, B. & Richard, G. (eds.) Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Race and Gender in Gaming. (pp. 118-132) Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press. [LINK]abstract
Refereed Conference Proceedings (full papers)
de Castell, S., Flynn-Jones, E., Jenson, J. & Bergstrom, K. (2017). “Learning Links: A study of narrative learning through games with The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker”. Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. [PDF]abstract
Bergstrom, K., de Castell, S. & Jenson, J. (2016). “Digital Detritus: What Can We Learn From Abandoned Massively Multiplayer Online Game Avatars?”. Proceedings of 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG. [PDF] [LINK]abstract
Bergstrom, K., Carter, M., Woodford, D., & Paul, C. (2013). “Constructing the Ideal EVE
Online Player.” In Proceedings of Digital Games Research Association 2013 Conference: DeFragging Game Studies. 172-180 [PDF][LINK] abstract
Bergstrom, K., Jenson, J., & de Castell, S. “What’s ‘Choice’ Got to Do With It? Avatar Selection Differences Between Novice and Expert players of World of Warcraft and Rift”. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 97-104. DOI=10.1145/2282338.2282360 [PDF] abstract
Bergstrom, K., McArthur, V., Jenson, J., & Peyton, T. (2011). “All in a Day’s Work: A study of World of Warcraft NPCs comparing gender to professions”. In Proceedings of the 2011 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games (Sandbox ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 31-35. DOI=10.1145/2018556.2018563 [PDF]
Refereed Conference Proceedings (extended abstracts)
Bergstrom, K. (2016). “You don’t ever stop playing EVE Online, you just take a break”: Rethinking what it means to quit a Massively Multiplayer Online Game”. In Proceedings of the 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG. [PDF]
Bergstrom, K. (2015). “Feminism is for angry white women: Exploring images of feminism on Reddit.com”. In Selected Papers of Internet Research 16.0. [LINK]
Bergstrom, K. “Virtual Inequality: A woman’s place in cyberspace”. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 267-269. DOI=10.1145/2282338.2282394 [PDF] abstract
Bergstrom, K. (2012). “What Can Advice Animals Teach Us About Feminism?” Fembot: Gender, New Media & Technology. [LINK]
Bergstrom, K. (2009). “Introducing Surveylady: A case for the use of avatars in game studies research”. Stream: Culture/Politics/Technology 2(1) 18–22. [LINK]
Bergstrom, K. (2007). “Conducting Research Through MMORPGs”. The Digest. Issue 18. [LINK]
Bergstrom, K. (2013). “Deadly Fever: Racism, Disease and a Media Panic.” Canadian Journal of Communication. 31(1) 139-140. [LINK]
Selected Conference Talks & Papers
Bergstrom, K. “This game is not for me: Non-Participation in EVE Online”. Meaningful Play. East Lansing, MI: October 20-22, 2016.
Bergstrom, K. “You don’t ever stop playing EVE Online, you just take a break”: Rethinking what it means to quit a Massively Multiplayer Online Game”. The 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG. Dundee, Scotland: Aug 1-3, 2016.
Bergstrom, K. “Unexamined Masculinities: Reframing the discussion about gender in the EVE Online Community”. Presentation as part of “Confronting Masculinities in Digital Games and Digital Cultures”, Gerald Voorhees (chair), at Console-ing Passions. Dublin, Ireland: June 18-20, 2015.
Bergstrom, K. An Unwelcome Intrusion? Player responses to survey recruitment on the official World of Warcraft Forums”. Canadian Game Studies Association. Ottawa, ON: June 3-5, 2015.
Bergstrom, K. ““We aren’t your personal research facility”: Survey Fatigue on the World of Warcraft Forums”. Digital Games Research Association. Snowbird, UT: August 3-6, 2014. [PDF]
Bergstrom, K., Jenson, J., Hydomako, R., & de Castell, S. “The Keys to Success: Supplemental Measures of Player Expertise in Massively Multiplayer Online Games”. International Communication Association. Seattle, WA: May 22-26, 2014. [Winner of Top Paper Award in the ICA Games Studies division]
Bergstrom, K. “Smash the Matriarchy! Memes and the Rise of Anti-Feminism on Reddit.com”. Console-ing Passions: International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism. Columbia, MO: April 10-12, 2014.
Bergstrom, K. “EVE Online Newbie Guides: Helpful information or gatekeeping mechanisms at work?” Association of Internet Researchers – ir14. Denver, CO: October 23-26, 2013.
Jenson, J., Bergstrom, K., & de Castell, S. “Playing ‘for Real’: A Lab-Based Study of MMOGs”. Association of Internet Researchers – ir14. Denver, CO: October 23-26, 2013.
Bergstrom, K. “Real + Imagined Player Communities”. Presentation as part of “Constructing the Ideal EVE Online Player”, Kelly Bergstrom (chair), at Digital Games Research Association, Atlanta, GA: August 26-29, 2013. [LINK]
Bergstrom, K. “There’s no crying in New Eden: Theorizing why women don’t play EVE Online”. Presentation as part of “Studying Gender & Games: Using Multiple Methodologies”, Kelly Bergstrom (chair), at International Communication Association, London, UK: June 17-21, 2013.
Chee, F. and Bergstrom, K. “On playing “like a girl”: a comparative analysis of quasi-affirmative (re)action”. Presentation as part of “Communicating the Diverse Debates and Divisions within Game Studies”, Kelly Bergstrom (chair), at Canadian Communication Association, Victoria, BC: June 5-7, 2013
Bergstrom, K. “Hypocrites and Harpies: Image macros and (Mis)Representations of Feminism Online”. Presentation as part of “Hackers, Cyberspaces and Heterotopias: Online Publics against a Managed Web”, Fenwick McKelvey (chair), at Canadian Communication Association, Victoria, BC: June 5-7, 2013
Bergstrom, K., Taylor, N., Jenson, J., and de Castell, S. “Not just spinning a ship: The importance of the backchannel to EVE Online play”. Presentation as part of “The Serious Business of Internet Spaceships: Studying EVE Online”, Kelly Bergstrom (chair), at Association of Internet Researchers – ir13. Salford, UK: October 21-23, 2012.
Bergstrom, K. “A Counter-Terrorist in King Arthur’s Court: Does FPS expertise transfer to a MMOG?” Presentation as part of “Traveling circuits: Studying assemblages in and across multiple online games”, Nick Taylor (chair), at Association of Internet Researchers – ir13. Salford, UK: October 21-23, 2012
Bergstrom, K., Jenson, J., and de Castell, S. “What’s ‘Choice’ Got to Do With It? Avatar Selection Differences Between Novice and Expert players of World of Warcraft and Rift”. Foundations of Digital Games, Raleigh, NC: May 30-June 1, 2012.
Bergstrom, K. “I’m a REAL girl gamer”: Internalized sexism and border patrolling among online girl gamer communities”. Presentation as part of “Performing Bodies: Sex, Gender and Community Online”, Whitney Phillips (chair), at International Communication Association, Phoenix, AZ: May 24-28, 2012.
Bergstrom, K. “Hulkageddon: the polarization of play in EVE Online”. Association of Internet Researchers – ir12, Seattle, WA: October 10-13, 2011.
Bergstrom, K., de Castell, S., & Jenson, J. “Worlds beyond Warcraft: studying multiple MMOs”. Presentation as part of “Re-assembling the Ludic”, Nick Taylor (chair), at Association of Internet Researchers – ir12, Seattle, WA: October 10-13, 2011.
Bergstrom, K., Fisher, S., & Jenson, J. “I’m not “that guy”: player narratives about stereotypes of excessive video game play”. Videogame Cultures and the Future of Interactive Entertainment, Oxford, UK: July 8-10, 2011.
Bergstrom, K. “On the Internet, nobody believes you’re a female gamer: Comparing “gamers” to “girl gamers” on Reddit.com”. Canadian Communication Association, Fredericton, NB: June 1-3, 2011.
Bergstrom, K., de Castell, S., & Jenson, J. “Beyond “one size fits all”: Recognizing Differences in MMOG affordances and player demographics”. Canadian Game Studies Association, Fredericton, NB: May 30-31, 2011.
Bergstrom, K. “A Troll By Any Other Name: Reading Identity on Reddit.com”. Association of Internet Researchers – ir11, Gothenburg, Sweden: October 21-23, 2010.
Bergstrom, K. “EVE 101: Exploring the research potential of EVE Online”. Canadian Game Studies Association, Montreal, QB: May 28-29, 2010.
Bergstrom, K. “Adventuring Together: Exploring the use of World of Warcraft as a third place. Canadian Communication Association, Ottawa, ON: May 28-30, 2009.
Bergstrom, K. “Do couples bowl online? Exploring how romantic couples use World of Warcraft to spend leisure time together”. Canadian Game Studies Association (Graduate Master’s Session), Ottawa, ON: May 23-24, 2009.
Bergstrom, K. “Introducing Surveylady: A case for the use of avatars in game studies research”. Popular Culture Association, New Orleans, LA: April 8-11, 2009.