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GENRE AND MASCULINITY Obviously our study of videogames needs to link to the representation of masculinity. Many videogames lend themselves well to this area, namely those of the Adventure and Beat ‘em up genres: Adventure The emphasis is on the combination of exploration and object-based puzzles. Progress is made through investigation, while the cerebral challenge of unlocking areas with gadgets, keys or similar items leads to a gradual exposition of the gamespace. Combat is often a significant part of the exploration. Beat ’emup Games with the emphasis on raw combat. The challenge is defeating opponents while avoiding as much damage as possible. While most beat ’em ups are confined to ‘arenas’, it is important to recognise scrolling beat ’em ups and other games that emphasise combat over other gameplay components.
Game development Largely due to: “University computing departments, the military, the interests of the first game developers, the first games and the subsequent of game playing as an activity embraced largely by young males” (Kerr, 2006)
Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty Released : April 2008 Sales: 13.2 million ($500m) Released: November 2009 Sales: 10.65 million
Games emerge from a cultural context US military funding? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHLJ_hZt2ds
The Effects Model at work? The Columbine shooting: Doom http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1295920.stm Car-Jacking: Grand Theft Auto http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3680481.stm Stabbing in Leicester!: Manhunt http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3936237.stm
(Un)popular claims about video games: Surgeons who played games for at least 3 hours a week made “37% fewer errors, were 27% faster” than surgeons who did not play games (Hall, 2007) Safe environment to enact fantasy Creativity of ‘modders’ (a small percent of game players mod make, usually developing communities around modding a particular game. Communities are generally connected via a web forum where new modders can ask questions of more experienced ones, and everyone can find inspiration in the work of others. And as more people have been more connected via the web, this has become a vital and dynamic creative phenomena where users become content creators not just content consumers.)
Constructed Representations Representations are never innocent. Representations are always a ‘construction’ in accordance with the producer’s politics
Representation and Race Negative representations of Black culture as animalistic, subservient, sexual, violent and dangerous still exist in the Media. 16 years of video gaming have only allowed for 11 black alpha prime videogame stars.
Game Over: Gender, Race & Violence in Video Games http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCuKQIMg0I4
Resident Evil 5 Race Row An exciting new direction for the definitive survival horror franchise or racist hate mongering at its worst? The problems, including the depiction of Black people as inhuman savages, the killing of Black people by a white man in military clothing, and the fact that the video game is marketed to children and young adults.
Representation and Gender: A new game for the PSN called Fat Princess is a TF2-like capture-the-flag game where the point is to feed your princess enough cake so that she grows really fat so that the opposing team can’t carry her back to their castle.
MADE BY BOYS FOR BOYS? In a 2007 study by the Media Awareness Network, 83% of male characters were aggressive in comparison to 62% of female characters. 60% of female characters were represented in a sexualised way in comparison to 1% of male characters. Where female characters exist they are often relegated to the background. Most game developers are male and design games for themselves. Women represent slightly less than 12 percent of the video game industry, according to a 2005 report from the International Game Developers Association.
Games for men? Studies of digital games have noted a "pattern of male technocratic privilege” (Williams) “Game development and design, production, marketing and construction dominated by heterosexual masculine fantasies” (Gansmo et al 2004)
Treatment of female characters: Marriott, 2003 Hyper sexualised female characters. As vastly improved technologies enable electronic game characters to look, sound and even move in a more lifelike way. There are also studies that suggest there is a growing trend in depicting graphic violence against women in the industry. The new female character may be clever, strong and powerful. However, the female character depending on the player’s ability and the game design may be a victim of violent assaults by men in certain video games. For many women watching women characters do combat in video games is empowering. Whereas, others believe that the images of the aggressive female characters are derogatory. For example, in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, players are rewarded for having sex with, and kicking a prostitute to death. In the game, male characters can beat women with their fists, feet even a golf club. Young men and boys who form the overwhelming majority of console game players not only like games with female characters, but also pay far more attention to those characters than they do to their digital male counterparts. According to studies young men expect their digital divas to be voluptuous and attractive. For example, the famous female character Lara Croft from the game Tomb Raider is considered as a video pinup girl. Recently a video game company called Majesco launched Blood Rayne2, which features a large breasted, half-human, half vampire woman named Blood Rayne. In a $5 million dollar TV advertisement aimed at young men she was marketed at ‘lethal erotica’. Supporting the TV add, the October 2004 issue of Playboy pictured Blood Rayne topless in their sexist women of videogames pictorial. Such images alienate female gamers. “When you put some hypersexed female on the cover of a video game, what that says to girls is don’t play this game, even though the game itself might be fantastic.” (Keefe, 2004)
Are things changing for girls? Nintendo Wii console captures new market: “Female console gamers grew from 23% to 28% in 2009” (Alexanda, 2009) A greater percentage of girls play has been centred in or around the home
AUDIENCES In March 2008, the Entertainment Software Association declared that 62% of game players are male. Although the preconception is that adolescent boys are the core market, the Interactive Digital Software Association claims that the average age of a game player is 28. Most software has historically been designed with boys in mind and if we use the 2 genres of Adventure and Beat ‘em ups, this still seems to be the case. This is not to say that girls don’t like or indeed don’t play these types of games, but the evidence suggests that they have been designed by males for males:
Gaming spaces outside the home Predominately masculine environments : arcades, pubs, motorway service stations. Women at a LAN party (a temporary, sometimes spontaneous, gathering of people with computers, between which they establish a local area network(LAN), primarily for the purpose of playing multiplayer computer games.) tend to be in more supportive roles. When they do compete the media portrays them as exotic and sexualised: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3496963.stm
Game content: Male bias Relatively low number of playable female characters Abundance of stereotypes Masculine themes The damsel in distress
Can women in games ever be more than 'tits and ass in a steel bikini'? The initial design, of the Asian character Faith by the Swedish developers D.I.C.E. A different version on a message board, produced by a Korean gamer, which depicted what he thought was a more appealing depiction of Asian female beauty. “We really wanted to get away from the typical portrayal of women in games, that they’re all just kind of tits and ass in a steel bikini. We wanted her to look athletic and fit and strong [enough] that she could do the things that she’s doing.It was just kind of depressing that someone thinks it would be better if Faith was a 12-year-old with a boob job.” (Tom Farrer, the producer of the recent first person 'parkour' inspired video game)
Gender swapping online: “identity tourism” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neottqW4owg Terry Flew,2005: suggests that the appeal of the ‘’’Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game’’’ lie in the idea of escapism, and the ability to assume the role of someone or something that is a fantasy in real life. ‘…for some women, [they] enjoy adopting what they feel to be an image of femininity more acceptable or desirable than their real world body…’ This is what he calls ‘’’identity tourism’’’, a form of hopping from one persona to another, for which there usually is a stereotypical discourse associated with the protagonist. This is seen in the case of males who assume the personas of the female gender, and the character’s representation of her gender being overly sexualised and/or passive, ‘…this tends to perpetuate and accentuate existing stereotypes of…women…’
The lack of homosexual characters in mainstream video games http://studentpulse.com/articles/159/2/from-bullies-to-heroes-homophobia-in-video-games
Leigh Alexander: FOUR reasons why we play video games: (she is news director for Gamasutra and author of the Sexy Videogameland blog)
To Feel Powerful:Games like: Crackdown, God Of War, Call of Duty, Devil May Cry
You're stepping into the shoes of someone much bigger and stronger than you, commanding a massive arsenal of weapons, or enjoying a stable of incredible vehicles. Games like these put players at the helm of a power fantasy, where the enjoyment of the game comes from being able to impact its world (or the faces of the enemies that live in it). If you get your fun out of feeling powerful, the flaws that get in the way will be those that distance the player from the action. Of course, the controls need to be immediately responsive and the physics need to work correctly – how powerful can you feel when your character doesn't react correctly, or an object he throws bounces like a piece of plastic when it ought to break? Music and sound stand out, too: crescendos create emotional peaks, and combat sound effects create a sense of impact. In this motivation group, artistic elements may be less important: You can have fun even with rough-edged polygons, ugly characters or a boring story, as long as there's a satisfying crunch when your fist connects.
To Have ControlGames like: Harvest Moon, Civilization, The Sims, Pokemon, FarmVille, Wii Fit
Game worlds can sometimes behave in complicated ways. That's why it can be so much fun to get them neatly-managed. Whether that's building a well-defended city in a real-time strategy game, building a finely-furnished dream mansion in a life simulator, or raising the perfect Pokemon, with every stat the best it can possibly be, having control is immensely satisfying. For players to get that sense of control, the game must behave in an understandable way, where actions produce predictable results. Bugs that interfere with completion percentages are not okay (but bugs that let players accidentally max out funds or resources are, of course!). And because control games often depend on using the same interface over and over, that interface must be clean, streamlined and easy to access and navigate. In games like these, the flaws most likely to ruin a player's experience are those related to the stability of the game world and the way it behaves. Since it's so tough for the control-motivated player to get the right balance of challenge and satisfaction, if you give them a very good gameplay system, there are often quite a few other flaws, from bad music to bad translation, that they'll be willing to tolerate.
To Break RulesGames Like: BioShock, Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, Prototype
There's one type of player who, as soon as they get control of their character, starts swinging weapons, jumping or climbing just to find out what the game world will and won't let them do. Does this glass break? Can these crates be smashed or stood upon? This player loves the simulated environments that game worlds can provide, and they play to test – and break – its rules. The primary draw for a player motivated by rule-bending and breaking is the joy of experimentation. Therefore, they're most likely to be bugged by a game world that doesn't give them a lot to do. Doors that don't open, or too many objects that are simply non-reactive chipset, feel like flaws. For this player, too, the world must behave in a responsive, believable way, since they need to be able to see the impact of the choices they make. Bad AI's a major experience-killer here – what's the fun of breaking the law if the cops, or the guards on duty, don't notice all the havoc you're sowing, only to chase you full-force for a much smaller misstep? Story may be important to this player, too, as it gives life to the game world. Smaller bugs tend to be forgivable, though, especially when they cause funny behaviour. A rule-breaking kind of player tends to mind less if the controls are less than perfect – chaos is what they love, and they can work around minor impediments.
To Explore A StoryGames like: Final Fantasy, Heavy Rain, Silent Hill
The story-driven player loves a game that makes them feel immersed in a new world, that lets them fill the role of a fantasy character on a journey. To them, the most important part of a gaming experience is a sense of place and character – they play to see what happens in the big picture, and to resolve a narrative. It's not surprising, then, that elements like graphics, music and voice acting need to be spot-on – players find it hard to believe in character models that look bizarre, behave stiffly or sound stilted. Because players motivated by story exploration need to feel grounded in the game world, it needs to look rich and real, even when it's a fantasy. Of course, the story needs to be good. Empty stretches where "nothing happens," or a plot that leaves gaping holes, make the game feel broken. This player will tolerate things like cut scenes or quick-time events more than other players will; they're more willing to be patient with technical problems like long loading screens or flawed combat as long as the emotional payoff is good.
GENRE AND MASCULINITY Generic Conventions: High level of violence Misogyny Casual violence Death Weak representation of women e.g. subject of the gaze, victims Representations of men are overtly masculine, remorseless, violent, thuggish Designed for boys
THE FINAL WORD? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3965269/Men-enjoy-computer-games-because-of-basic-urge-to-conquer.html