Certain styles of gaming may be considered as hegemonic for girls and boys respectively and these norms were certainly both reproduced and challenged in the children’s peer groups at the holiday club. For the most part, the children’s gender tactics primarily reproduced existing gender identities and power relations. Despite games also providing a space for transgression, this study confirms of the importance of hypermasculinity and heteronormativity for this group of children.
Borderwork is not peaceful, nor is ludic gendering a peaceful issue BUT gaming is not all about violence Cross-sex play has the potential to engage children in less gender-stereotypical play
games * children * play
Dr Nicola Pallitt
Presentation for the
SA Association of Women Graduates
Peace in our times?
24 May 2014
games * children *
Mimicry / imitation
For children, the aim is to imitate adults. This
explains the success of the toy weapons and
miniatures which copy the tools, engines,
arms, and machines used by adults. The little
girl plays her mother’s role as cook, laundress,
and ironer. The boy makes believe he is a
soldier, musketeer, policeman, pirate, cowboy,
(Caillois,  2001, p. 21)
‘Hidden transcript’ of
…presses against and tests the limits of what
may be safely ventured in terms of a reply to a
public transcript of deference and conformity.
(Scott, 1990, p. 157-158).
Importance of mimicry &
parody in children’s play
The Opies: role of parody and mimicry in
children’s play changes in response to socio-
Children “reflect their immediate environments
and often parody adult behaviour” (Harrop-Allin
2010, p. 161) while also working out cross-gender
interactions and sexual roles (2010, p. 109).
The Sims 2 and
sexuality• The Sims 2 play episodes
• Girls played lesbian family
• ‘Make out’
• heterosexual romance
• Boys’ played ‘dress up’
• Police sexuality
• ‘These clothes are
• Boys don’t wear
• Making fun of the bum
Mark: Wait – you hold L2, now you hold R2 and like
make yourselves look like you’re holding hands. Just do
[Archie hits Tara’s sackgirl instead, the children laugh.]
Just hold hands! I want to see what they look like. No,
just do it – move your hands down. Stop it Archie!
[Archie makes his sack-groom run around in the
background, he does not want to hold hands with his
sack-bride. Joey hums the wedding march. Archie gives
in and comes closer and they try to make their hands
touch. Tara hits Archie’s sackboy and they all laugh.]
Don’t! I want to see what it looks like.
Archie: I don’t.
Mark: Now go close, now do it.
Joey: You may kiss the bride!
Mark: Go a little further away. There we go. (But Archie
runs away.) No, go in front of her, then she’s not able to
Kiss or hit the bride? Tara, Archie, Mark and Joey play
Little Big Planet (Holiday club, 8 April 2011)
Are these play episodes
‘peaceful’?What can children’s
gameplay tell us?
• ‘Ludic gendering’ of particular games was
appropriated into children’s play and peer
relationships, while mediating their understandings
of gender and sexuality
• heteronormativity and gender norms in children’s
• familiar playground practices and borderwork
(Thorne, 1993), which characterize children’s non-
digital play, are still very salient and cannot be
• importance of hypermasculinity and
heteronormativity for this group of children
… what exists is far from filling all
possible spaces… What can be
–Michael Foucault (1997, p. 139-140)
• Email: email@example.com
• Twitter: @nicolapallitt
• Thesis available at http://oatd.org/