English Language and Literature

Emma Vossen SmilingEmma Vossen received her PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Waterloo in 2018. She then went on two complete two concurrent postdoctoral research fellowships at York University and the University of British Columbia. She is the co-author and co-editor of the anthology Feminism in Play (Palgrave 2018) and the upcoming Game Studies Historiographies (Punctum 2022). Her dissertation examines the accessibility of games, gamer identity, and games culture. Emma is the former commentaries editor, podcast host, and editor-in-chief of middle state games studies publication First Person Scholar (FPS).

After several years of teaching and researching at other institutions, Vossen has returned to Waterloo and is now the Research Communications Officer at the GI.

Emma has published on a variety of topics, including but not limited to: issues surrounding academic poverty and academic publishing in the Journal of Working-Class Studies, issues of consent and the contemporary magic circle in Feminism in Play, the accessibility of pornography for women and the Fifty Shades of Grey series in Sexual Fantasies, post-capitalist romance and domesticity in The Walking Dead comics in Zombies and Sexuality, and the fetish art of Superman's co-creator Joe Shuster in Masked Mosaic.

You can read various bits of Emma's writing about academic publishing, online harassment, The Legend of Zelda, community organization, and The Walking Dead on First Person Scholar. She is also the co-founder of the Games Institute Janes (GI Janes), and during her PhD, she organized monthly gaming events at the Games Institute.

Vossen's two most recent academic articles are Tom Nook, Capitalist or Comrade? On Nook Discourse and the Millennial Housing Crisis in Loading: The Journal of Canadian Game Studies Association and There and Back Again: Tolkien, Gamers, and the Remediation of Exclusion through Fantasy Media in Feminist Media Histories

To find out more about Emma's work, please go to www.emmavossen.com

Sample Projects

First Person Scholar

front page of the FPS website

Emma was a contributor and editor of First Person Scholar (FPS) from 2012 to 2016 and was the Editor in Chief from 2015 to 2016. FPS is an online game studies periodical created and maintained by graduate students at the University of Waterloo through The Games Institute. FPS aims to occupy the niche between academic blogs and journals in establishing an informed, sustained conversation. Their articles are thought-provoking pieces intended to stimulate debate on games and games scholarship.

Sample Publications and Presentations

"On the Cultural Inaccessibility of Gaming: Invading, Creating, and Reclaiming the Cultural Clubhouse"


Download and read Emma's dissertation, "On the Cultural Inaccessibility of Gaming: Invading, Creating, and Reclaiming the Cultural Clubhouse." While this is a PhD dissertation, it was written with a public audience in mind and has been read and enjoyed by academics and gaming enthusiasts alike!

"My dissertation uses intersectional feminist theory to develop the concept of "cultural inaccessibility", a concept I've created to describe the ways that women are made to feel unwelcome in spaces of game play and games culture, both offline and online. At the same time, I also explore my own experiences as a female gamer and academic in the 2010s, using projects I have been a part of as a means of reflecting on developments in the broader culture."

Feminism in Play

Feminism in Play (2018) is an edited collection of essays edited by GI members Kishonna L. Gray, Gerald Voorhees and Emma Vossen and published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Vossen has two chapters in Feminism in Play: "The Magic Circle and Consent in Gaming Practices" and "Reframing Hegemonic Conceptions of Women and Feminism in Gaming Culture", co-authored with Gray and Voorhees.

Feminism in Play is part of the Palgrave Games in Context book series, which is edited by GI Executive Director Dr. Neil Randall and GI alumni Dr. Steve Wilcox.

The book cover of Feminism in Play"Feminism in Play focuses on women as they are depicted in video games, as participants in games culture, and as contributors to the games industry. This volume showcases women's resistance to the norms of games culture, as well as women's play and creative practices both in and around the games industry. Contributors analyze the interconnections between games and the broader societal and structural issues impeding the successful inclusion of women in games and games culture. In offering this framework, this volume provides a platform to the silenced and marginalized, offering counter-narratives to the post-racial and post-gendered fantasies that so often obscure the violent context of production and consumption of games culture."

Winner of the 2016 SSHRC's Storytellers Contest

Vossen's presentation was about First Person Scholar and the future of academic publishing. She was one of five winners of the 2016 contest.

A panel of judges selected her work from a group of 25 finalists who gave their 3-minute presentations live at the 2016 Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities in Calgary, Alberta. The 25 finalists were selected from a large pool of graduate student applicants from across Canada.

The five winners also received the honour of presenting their work at the 2016 SSHRC Impact Awards Ceremony in Ottawa.


University of Waterloo