Apoorva Sanagavarapu

English - Experimental Digital Media

Detective Pikachu Apoorva Sanagavarapu is a current Masters’ student in the the Experimental Digital Media (XDM) CO-OP stream of English, at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests have led her to develop a deeper understanding of topics, including, but not limited to: fan studies, digital/social media cultures, feminist and gender theory, critical media infrastructures, critical race theory, the Anthropocene and environmental sustainability, as well as LGBTQ+ representation in the media, canon, and/or “fanon.” She previously earned an Honours BA in English Literature and Rhetoric, along with specializations in Digital Media Studies and Technical Writing, as well as a minor in Italian Studies, also from the University of Waterloo. She continues to pursue endeavors related to her primary interest in fandom/fanfiction studies, as seen through her research creation projects for XDM.

She was accepted to present her research creation project entitled "Where are you Baby Pikachu? : A PowerPoint Presentation/[Prototype] Location-Based Mobile Game (LBMG),“ at the 2020 Canadian Game Studies Association (CGSA/ACÉV) annual conference, which was to be held June 3 to June 5 at Western University in London, Ontario, in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences. She will be presenting her Pikachu-inspired LBMG at the virtual CGSA/ACÉV Conference this June! The current iteration of the game is a single player “demo,” of sorts, which centers on a non-conforming, gender-neutral, Pikachu – who has three adopted, multinational children – as the only playable character and protagonist (Games and inclusion: gender, minorities, and society; Stuart). Establishing a novel connection between Pikachu and the University of Waterloo’s Critical Media Lab (CML), her PPT-based game attempts to educate players on the history, as well as the potential narratives of place - or lack thereof – surrounding locations of the CML. Her Major Research/Creative Project (MRP) for her MA, aims to investigate the repercussions of repeated exposure to the "love triangle" - occasionally "rectangle" - trope on contemporary youth/young adult audiences. Inspired by Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games," it analyzes "shipping" practices in the teen and young adult protagonists of the popular Netflix series Stranger Things (2016), via fanfiction narratives. Predominantly concerned with the respective characterizations of Steve Harrington and Will Byers, as they appear in the canon/fanon, her project has led her to produce two separate but interrelated fictional accounts, in the form of a fanfiction story, and a Twine game, respectively.

Each of these texts aims to examine the extent to which Steve and Will are personally being pressured by the pre-established expectation within their society, that they, being young adult/teenage males, are automatically going to be “romantically interested in” and/or pursuing “an amorous relationship” with other teenager(s) or young adult(s), either similar or close to themselves in age. In so doing, she aspires to get as many readers/players as she can to explore the impact that such reading material has on consumers' personal ideas, perceptions, and/or understandings of topics such as: romance, intimacy, and the construction of gender roles, and/or gender identities. More specifically, her MRP aims to use these fan-oriented texts to extend real world conversations on these topics beyond the pre-established and often superficial masculine or feminine, and straight or gay/lesbian binaries frequently associated with them.  Such ideas – relating to gender, sexuality, and/or sexual orientation – are typically found more commonly within source texts – or “canons” – when compared to other, lesser known, and often underrepresented sexualities and/or sexual orientations from the LGBTQ+ spectrum – namely bisexuality and asexuality.

She is working under the supervision of Dr. Neil Randall.

University of Waterloo

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