Gamemunication: Prosthetic Communication Ethnography of Game Avatars

SF. Luthfie Arguby Purnomo, SF. Lukfianka Sanjaya Purnama, Lilik Untari, Nur Asiyah, Novianni Anggraini


This study revisits Hymes’ ethnography of communication for game avatars, functioning as a communication nexus connecting games and gamers. Hymes formulates his ethnography of communication into SPEAKING (Settings and Scenes, Participants, Ends, Act Sequences, Keys, Instrumentalities, Norms, and Genres) and this formula deems to be unfit to explain how game avatars communicate. Implementing Klevjer’s prosthetic telepresence (2012) to analyze sixty-two game titles, it is revealed that SPEAKING requires an extension when applied to study game avatars since the formula is not designed to explain the prosthetic nature of game avatars. This prosthetic nature produces specific communication ethnography of avatars, which we dub prosthetic communication ethnography. By prosthetic communication ethnography refers to technical elements of gaming, which contribute to the ways the avatars communicate. As Hymes’ ethnography of communication with SPEAKING, this avatar based communication ethnography requires the same tool of analysis, which we call GAMING (Gaming systems, Attributes, Mechanics, Indexicalities, Narratives, and Geosocial systems), constructed with indexical storytelling by Fernández-Vara (2011), user interface types of games by Stonehouse (2014) and prosthetic video game theory by Jagodzinski (2019) as the theoretical foundations. GAMING and SPEAKING are integrated by bridging them with Aarseth’s ludonarrative dimensions (2012).


Keywords: Game avatars, ethnography of communication, prosthetic, SPEAKING, GAMING.

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