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Analysis of Play, February 10th, 2014
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Analysis of Play, February 10th, 2014


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  • 1. The Analysis of Play
  • 2. Today 1) What we’re looking for. 2) Analysis 1: check-in 3) Playing Zelda: What did you notice about the genre of the game? 4) Some quick feminism 5) The readings 6) Homework
  • 3. To Begin To start today, I want us to look at your lists of definitions of “play” and “game.” Both are posted to the course site. Form groups of 3-5. Look at all of the definitions, and based on what you see, construct a bulleted list of what we SHOULD be looking for when we ANALYZE play. You will read these aloud, but also email the list to me. (alexanp3 @ miami OH dot edu)
  • 4. Analysis One Hopefully you have started on your first analysis paper. It will be due on February 24th. Does anyone have questions about that assignment?
  • 5. Zelda Let’s talk a bit about the Legend of Zelda (in whatever iteration you played it). As a point of trivia, does anyone know why the original NES Zelda game is particularly groundbreaking?
  • 6. One Truism… …of the Zelda world is that Link, our hero, is always in some way tasked with saving Princess Zelda (even in the game where she helps him fight!). The question… … is that a good thing?
  • 7. Some quick feminism
  • 8. “White men are saving brown women from brown men.” • Gayatri Spivak This sentence aims to convey how certain brands of feminism become an excuse for colonial and neocolonial forms of violence. So, when white men are all like, "Hey, you! Yeah, you Third World Women, you! You look oppressed! Why don't you come live in our super progressive (but still sexist, heyo) First World countries and be free from harm… they're actually further silencing the subaltern.
  • 9. “Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth.” “Art is an attempt to integrate evil.” • Simone de Beauvoir, from The Second Sex
  • 10. “A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.” “No man can call himself liberal, or radical, or even a conservative advocate of fair play, if his work depends in any way on the unpaid or underpaid labor of women at home, or in the office.” • Gloria Steinem
  • 11. “... that gender is a choice, or that gender is a role, or that gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning, that there is a 'one' who is prior to this gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender and decides with deliberation which gender it will be today.” • Judith Butler, from Gender Trouble
  • 12. Sherman The games are captivating to males primarily because players compete with each other and with the machine to "save the princess." They know this narrative well from multiple sources and are eager to actually become the hero in the tale. The heroines, as Teresa de Lauretis explains, are "in someone else's story, not their own." They become "figures or markers of positions-places and topoithrough which the hero and his story accomplish meaning" (1984:109).
  • 13. Sherman, cont… Boys see the option of playing the princess in Mario 2 as strange because "she's the one you're trying to save"; girls see her as the heroine who saves the mushroom people, much like she does in the other Mario games but with a distinct difference-she doesn't need Mario to release her from a spell.
  • 14. Sherman… In Metroid, the heroic character is female, but the boys did not find that strange, perhaps because she is an alien. "She has green hair, I think," said one. The other remarked, "I picture it as an it." Despite the game booklet's description of the character as female, girls thought the character was male. "He's got an astronaut thing, a helmet." Thus, the same game is discerned differently-the female becomes a green-haired monster for boys and a male action figure for girls.
  • 15. Blackmon Blonde haired, blue eyed princess with a ponytail who can kick bad guy ass all over the screen. She doesn’t see Peach as the neurotic, helpless figure that I did, she sees her as powerful…as her. Sam meet tons of bricks, ton of bricks meet Sam. Now all of this time I have been struggling with my own historical narrative of Peach just as Pea was building her own narrative for her. For her the pink was powerful because it was what she wanted and it still allowed her to kick butt in the process.
  • 16. Blackmon… …while princesses can be negative role models that they are not necessarily so. While pink can be a way of marking something as “inferior” or used for gender coding in a heteronarmative society that it can also be empowering if your choice is just that an informed choice. This is something that I am sure to struggle with as time goes on and I welcome the opportunity to think it all through critically.
  • 17. Cote Jenkins and Cassell classify this aspect of Metroid as one of the “abundant reasons to judge the video games of today as reaffirming sexist ideologies and circulating misogynistic images”[viii] by citing it as a reward for player competence[ix]. This revelation is not in any way integral to the storyline or the progression of the game. In fact, as discussed earlier, it stops the progression of the game entirely to allow the player to gaze upon and control the sexual aspects of the character. The bikini removes the threat posed to men by a powerful, capable woman by making Samus vulnerable to the impact of the male gaze, which seeks to control and fetishize her in the same way that the less capable Peach is controlled and fetishized.
  • 18. Cote… The last example of a female video game character, Princess Zelda, almost manages to escape the confines of sexuality imposed upon her by the male-dominated video-game industry. Within the Legend of Zelda games, she acts as a guide to the main character, Link, offering him instructions and giving him necessary tools to complete his quests. In addition, she takes independent action on a number of occasions, and while she ultimately needs to be rescued by Link in many circumstances, it is difficult to see her as a typical damsel in distress.
  • 19. Cote Girls who enjoy games that have been traditionally designated as “boy games” have also started to rebel against this stereotype, “embrac[ing] traditional fighting games, especially Quake, as a space where they can confront men on their own terrain and literally beat them at their own game”[xviii]. In doing so, they often exaggerate their sexuality, deliberately emphasizing female attributes in much the same way that video games and cinema do and are criticized for by feminist theorists. By making this emphasis explicit and deliberate, however, female gamers are attempting to adapt the power of the gaze for their own purposes, rather than having it act as demeaning.
  • 20. For Wednesday • Read for class: Frasca • We will discuss the major split in game studies: narratology vs. ludology • BE PREPARED!