About the researcher

I am a third year full-time PhD student. My main passions in life are video games and writing, so it seemed fitting to combine them in my thesis. My third greatest passion is music, so I'm working on a way I can fit that in too.

Research interests

  • Video games studies
  • Fanfiction studies
  • Fandom studies
  • Inappropriate relationships

Cosima Holmes headshot
Cosima Holmes

PhD abstract

Thesis title

Emotionally attached pixels: romantic and sexual attraction towards NPCs and non-customisable PCs


This thesis aims to answer how tiefempfunden—deeply-rooted/deeply-felt—romantic relationships can be utilised within videogames and videogame fanfictions. The key markers of tiefempfunden relationships are genuine love and consent. I will be examining several existing romances found within games, thematically dissecting online published fanfictions to see how tiefempfunden has been utilized. There will be a discussion of whether a relationship with an ambiguous/removed marker can retain tiefempfunden. Finally, a practice consisting of my own fanfictions and exploration of my history as fan/writer to give an intimate insight into how tiefempfunden relationships have become an integral part of my writing.