February 11, 2022

Recent Shawnee State University graduate Erin Rice (Hometown: South Shore, KY) participated in last year’s Celebration of Scholarship (COS) conference to share research she completed in her English & Humanities courses. Majoring in English with a concentration in Culture and Media Studies, Rice’s work explored Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze within video games.

Erin Rice

“My research was on the theory that cultural artifacts in video games are created to cater to heterosexual men,” said Rice. “For example, everyone knows Princess Peach from Nintendo’s Mario games. She is portrayed as a damsel in distress – Mario is constantly saving her. This caters to heterosexual men since the woman (Peach) is nothing without the man (Mario).”

Rice utilized characters from different games from various cultures to complete her project. She selected games that featured three different countries – Poland, America, and Japan – to showcase that the male gaze is prevalent throughout the world. To prepare for her COS presentation, her goal was to select female characters from popular games that people might recognize.

Rice worked closely with Dr. Marc Scott throughout the research process. She found his feedback helpful in providing insight for her project.

“Dr. Scott was the best mentor I could have asked for,” she said. “I was constantly sending him codes and explaining my thought process. He was willing to give me feedback on each step of my project.”

Looking back on her experience at last year’s conference, Rice found the work essential to her development as a student at SSU.

“This experience became such an essential part of my time at Shawnee,” said Rice. “It helped me realize that I have important ideas to add to an overarching academic situation. I didn’t think I could say something that would add anything to the conversation of the male gaze, and yet I was able to through the Celebration of Scholarship experience.”

Rice encourages other SSU students to consider taking part in this year’s Celebration of Scholarship conference and take a chance on presenting their own research.

“I would advise students not to give up,” she said. “There were a lot of moments when I felt like I wasn’t going in the direction that my research needed to go. Once I pushed through my doubt, I could think clearly and achieve what I wanted.”

SSU’s COS conference brings together undergraduate and graduate programs from different colleges across campus to deliver academic presentations showcasing their personal academic research. Work presented at the conference relates to student’s research in their field, creative work in visual and performing arts, community service, and study abroad. This year’s COS conference will be held the week of Apr. 4 in a hybrid format.

To learn more about the upcoming Shawnee State University Celebration of Scholarship Conference, visit