Research/Publications

The following are a selection of publications accompanied with the access link and abstract. Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding my work.

For immediate access to my cited work, visit my Google Scholar page.


Dym, B., Brubaker, J., & Fiesler, C. (2018). “theyre all trans sharon”: Authoring gender in video game fan fiction—Forthcoming in Game Studies December, 2018.

[no link available yet]

Abstract: Underrepresented fans of media, such as women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and other marginalized people use fan fiction (new narratives constructed from elements of existing media) to critique and recraft their representation in media such as television, movies, books and video games. This article explores fan response to diverse gender identities, or their absence, in video games, through stories found on the popular fan fiction website Archive of Our Own (AO3). The analysis examines metadata from over 2,200 unique fan fiction stories, focusing on freeform, user-generated tags. In addition to categorizing works, tags are also a place for authors to describe their intentions and respond to the source material. This analysis reveals that authors are recrafting video game narratives to include more diverse gender representation in a way unique to the current cultural nuances of video games. This article argues that game developers can expand diversity in games not only by adding queer characters but by leaving narrative choices and details open so that players can interpret character identities in multiple ways. By challenging the hegemonic barriers in games, the diverse communities that take place in authoring and reading fan fiction expand the boundaries of video game culture while also revealing ways that video games themselves can open the doors to greater diversity in their narratives.


Dym, B. & Fiesler, C. (2018). Vulnerable and online: Fandom’s case for stronger privacy norms and tools. In CSCW ’18 Companion.

Abstract: When social media platforms do not offer adequate privacy and safety features, users construct their own strategies for protecting private information and avoiding harassment. Women and LGBTQIA people are vulnerable targets if their privacy is violated, leading to situations that can compromise their safety both online and off. In an initial exploration of privacy and safety concerns of participants in online fan communities, we find that they avoid engaging online to preserve their privacy and safety, thus limiting the involvement of already marginalized voices in public discourse. LGBTQIA people in particular practice non-use for fear of being outed in personal spaces if recognized. In response to challenges users face, we recommend that developers consider finer controls over user content in addition to thoughtful practices among researchers and journalists when it comes to sharing “public” data.


Dym, B. & Fiesler, C. (2018). Generations, migrations, and the future of fandom’s private spaces. Transformative Works and Cultures, 28.

Abstract: An exploration of old versus young fandom indicates that this divide is fueled by shifting norms encouraged by migration across online platforms, with changes that focus on conflicting norms around the publicness of fandom. Although fandom has become more public facing, fans are also more broadly participating in activism, forming communities for political action and media criticism, causing long-standing fans to worry that these changes could lead to a collapse between private and public spaces. However, what makes fandom important remains intact: fandom is and will continue to be a home for those pushed to the margins of media.