Online Gaming in Post-Soviet Russia: Practices, Contexts and Discourses

  • Catherine Goodfellow

Student thesis: Phd


In terms of both production and consumption, video games and gaming are a significant phenomenon in Russia, a fact acknowledged by the authorities and mainstream media. Although internet use in Russia has been a point of academic interest over the past few years, scholars have been slower to research video games despite their increasingly popular position in the media ecology of the region. Similarly, despite the abundance of theory and data on gaming in North America and Europe, game studies researchers have hardly skimmed the surface of the cultures, preferences and activities of gamers further afield. This dissertation investigates the online gaming sphere in Russia, presenting an empirical study of the industry, providing insight into gamers themselves, and analysing the media and political discourses surrounding gaming in Russia. In this study, I draw upon survey data, forum, website, and blog posts, user comments from gaming forums and analyses of local games to construct a picture of gaming activity and identity amongst gamers. In particular, I show how Russian-speaking gamers present themselves as members of a distinct subcultural group. Online gamers who participated in this study are shown to consume and discuss games in ways that can differ from elsewhere in the world, but they still retain common beliefs about the importance of expertise, taste and self-discipline within the gaming community. They display a great deal of knowledge about the games and communities available to them locally, while also consuming foreign games in selective and critical ways. For the reader conversant with game studies work, the dissertation constitutes a challenge to West-centric theories of gaming and gamers and demonstrates the importance of cultural context in shaping gaming practice. Throughout the dissertation, interactions between global and local, media and subcultural definitions of 'gamer' are crucial to understanding how gaming plays out in a Russian context. The self-definition of gamers differs greatly from mainstream media concepts of gamers. I contextualise discourses of the gaming self within an analysis of how the Russian media presents gamers as young people in need of moral and emotional guidance. Moreover, I show how contemporary media assessments of games and gamers have much in common with earlier moral panics about Western-inflected media and subcultures, such as rock music and style. Ultimately the gaming landscape in Russia is shown to be full of tensions, and the task of this dissertation is to identify, assess and compare these disparate discourses.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRachel Platonov (Supervisor) & Stephen Hutchings (Supervisor)


  • game studies
  • Russian media studies
  • online gaming
  • videogames
  • Russian youth culture
  • Russian gaming

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