Graduate Program

Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Scott M. Walus

Thesis Committee Member

David Gracon

Thesis Committee Member

Richard G. Jones, Jr.


George Gerbner (1998) dedicated a significant amount of this life attempting to understand the creation and impact of mass media messages on viewers. Out of this research sprang cultivation theory, which holds viewers' realities can be impacted over time by the media environment they inhabit and its overarching messages. While often applied to television, cultivation theory has largely ignored other mediums, specifically video games. Video games have evolved as a medium since the public arcades of the 1980's and now run on high-powered, internet-enabled consoles. These consoles allow producers into the home of the consumer, saturating them with messages. This thesis advocates video game producer messages are encoded in such a manner as to encourage the consumption of video game content and instill in the consumer a reality constructed by the producer. To interrogate these messages, I conduct a case study of a video game developer, "Tacit Games" (a pseudonym), and examine how the producer attempts to cultivate consumption in the consumer through approaches like downloadable content and framing the video game experience for the video game consumer. Specifically, I examine messages surrounding the developer's franchise, City Mayhem (also a pseudonym). To do this, I conduct qualitative interviews with five senior employees of the company to ascertain what messages are produced for the consumer in relation to the goals of this thesis. The data collected from these interviews is analyzed through the lens of cultural Marxism, which entails the examination of the limitations and pressures exerted on the formation of culture.

Included in

Communication Commons