Digital Games
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  • 1. MAC129 [email_address]
  • 2. Outline
    • Historical business
    • Popular claims
    • Gender
  • 3.
    • April 2008
    • Day 1 = 3.6m copies sold ($310m)
    • Week 1 = 6m copies sold (£500m)
    • August 2008
    • 10m+ sales and counting
  • 4. Historical business
    • A struggle to define a place for early games
      • (see Marvin, 1988; Poole, 2004)
    • Historical accounts tend to be lists of names and dates
  • 5. First game? Spacewar! 1962 (Steven Russell) Tennis For Two 1958 (William Higginbotham)
  • 6. Cold War kids 1950s ….
    • Emerged during a period of intense socio-economic and geo-political changes:
      • Space Race (USSR)
      • Cold War paranoia (nuclear anxiety)
      • Decline of heavy industry
      • Major changes in life style
      • Advent of domestic mass communication
      • Consumer confidence
  • 7. Game development
    • Largely due to
      • “ university computing departments, the military, the interest of the first game developers, the first games and the subsequent development of game playing as an activity embraced largely by young males”
        • (Kerr, 2006: 14; see also Haddon, 1988; 1993)
  • 8. First commercial systems
    • Baer/Magnavox Odyssey console
    • (domestic launch 1972)
    • Nintendo’s first console!
    • Nolan Bushnell’s/Atari arcade machine – Pong
    • (public launch 1972)
  • 9. 1976-1986: 2 nd & 3 rd Gen
    • Atari 2600
    • Nintendo NES
    • Sega Master System
  • 10.
    • The big players in the late 1980s and early 1990s were two Japanese giants: Nintendo with its Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicom) and the more powerful Super NES; and the Sega, with its Megadrive ... [They] inspired fanatical loyalty. They were the Beatles and the Stones of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Nintendo was the Beatles; wholesome fun for all the family ... Sega, on the other hand, were the snarling, street-smart gang, roughing it up for the hardcore videogame fans
      • Poole (2000:18)
  • 11. 1987-1992: 4 th Gen
    • Sega vs Nintendo
    • Mega Drive (Genesis)
    • SNES (Super Famicom)
    • Also rans:
    • PC Engine/TurboGrafx
    • Neo Geo
  • 12. 1993-2002: 5 th Gen
    • CD vs cartridge era:
    • 1993 Atari Jaguar
    • 1993 3DO
    • 1993 Amiga CD32
    • 1994 Sony PS
    • 1995 Sega Saturn
    • 1996 Nintendo 64
  • 13. 1998-2006: 6 th Gen
    • 1998 Sega Dreamcast
    • 2000 Sony PS2
    • 2001 Microsoft Xbox
    • 2001 Nintendo Gamecube
    • Note:
    • Era of online gaming consoles begins ( sort of! )
  • 14. 2004-? 7 th Gen
    • 2005 Xbox 360
    • 2006 Sony PS3
    • 2006 Nintendo Wii
    • Broadband gaming
    • Home entertainment devices?
  • 15. Popular claims
    • Health and violence – negative associations
    • 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
    • Stabbings: Manhunt
      • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3936237.stm
  • 16.
    • http://nexgenwars.com/
  • 17. (un)Popular claims
    • Positive claims?
    • 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’
  • 18. Cultural context?
  • 19.
    • Representations are never innocent.
    • Representations are always a ‘construction’ in accordance with the producer’s politics.
  • 20.
    • Blacks as animalistic, violent and dangerous.
  • 21.
  • 22.
  • 23.
    • http://www.feministgamers.com/?p=466
    • http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-write-letters.html
    • http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/07/23/well-that-was-bound-to-happen/
  • 24.
  • 25.
  • 26. Gender
    • Studies of digital games have noted a ‘consistent pattern of male technocratic privilege’
      • (Williams, cited in Kerr, 2006: 19).
    • Game development & design, production, marketing & construction, dominated by heterosexual masculine fantasies
      • Gansmo et al (2003)
  • 27.
    • Traditional stereotype of femininity evoked
      • Relationships
      • Romance
      • Emotions
      • Role-play
    • Gansmo (2003): little understanding within the industry about how game design might be linked to gender socialisation
  • 28.
    • Games are a ‘ prime example of the social construction of gender ’ (Cassell and Jenkins, 1998: 37) and they may significantly influence people’s attitudes towards the use of computers in school or later career choices
  • 29. Social construction of gender?
  • 30.
    • Gender as performance (Butler, 1990)
    • Interaction with people/ideas
    • We negotiate our gendered identity
    • Implications for:
      • Gender differences in gaming preferences
      • The gendering of gaming technologies and the impact on identity
      • The gendering of game characters
  • 31. Playing games, performing gender
    • Funk (1993): 75% of females play games at home (90% males)
    • Colwell and Payne (2000): 88% of females aged 12-14 play games regularly
    • ESA (2004): 39% of US gamers are female and females account for 40% of online players.
    • Krotoski (2004): approx 25% of gamers are female in Europe, compared to 70% in Korea
    • Crawford & Gosling (2005): Women much less likely to play the older they get
  • 32. Krotoski, 2004: 10
  • 33.
    • ‘ Nintendo's Wii console captures new game market’
    • (John Sterlicchi, Oct 2007)
      • http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/oct/10/usnews.internationalnews
  • 34.
    • Access to gadgets in home is not gender neutral
    • Highly masculine and potentially hostile to females
    • www.girlzclan.com
    • www.everground.com
  • 35.
  • 36. Domestic access
    • Space
      • a greater percentage of girls’ play has been centred in or around the home
    • Time
      • females still spend more time engaged in domestic labour than males (typically 1.5 hours per day more than males in the UK)
  • 37. Gendered gaming spaces outside the home
    • Predominantly masculine environments
      • arcades, pubs, motorway service stations
    • Women at LAN parties tend to be in a supportive role
    • When they do compete the media portrays them as:
      • Exotic
      • Sexualised
  • 38. Game content
    • Low number of playable female characters
    • Abundance of stereotypes
    • Masculine themes
    • The damsel in distress
  • 39. Positive moves?
    • 1991: Nintendo release Barbie Game Girl for Game Boy
    • 1996: Mattel release Barbie Fashion Designer
    • 2000: The Sims
    • 2003: Linden Research launches Second Life
    • 2004: The Sims 2
    • 2004: SCEEurope release karaoke title SingStar on PS2
    • 2006: Sony launches pink PS2 and PSP
  • 40. Children Now study (2000)
    • 92% games have a male lead (54% female)
    • 50% women portrayed in a stereotypical way.
    • 38% displayed women with significant body exposure (23% breasts; 31% thighs; 15% backsides; 31% stomachs/midriffs)
    • Female characters defined by ‘disproportionately large’ breasts (38%) and ‘excessively tiny’ waists (46%)
  • 41.
  • 42. Positive figures?
  • 43. Conclusion
    • History of games has been male dominated
    • Industry can be conservative and not welcome change (can be risky)
    • Women increasingly more important to the industry
  • 44. Sources
    • Jo Bryce & Jason Rutter, 2003, ‘Gender dynamics and the social and spatial organisation of computer gaming’, Leisure Studies , 22: 1-15
    • Jo Bryce, Jason Rutter and Cath Sullivan, 2006, ‘Digital games and gender’, in Jason Rutter & Jo Bryce (eds.), Understanding Digital Games , London: Sage.
    • Judith Butler, 1990, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity , London: Routledge.
    • Children Now, 2000, Girls and Gaming: A Console Video Game Content Analysis , Oakland, CA: Children Now
    • J. Colwell & J. Payne, 2000, ‘Negative correlates of computer game play in adolescents’, British Journal of Psychology , 91: 295-310.
    • G. Crawford & V. Gosling, 2005, ‘Toys for boys? Women’s marginalization and participation as digital gamers’, Sociological Research Online, 10, (1), http://www.socresonline.org.uk/10/1/crawford.html
    • T.L. Dietz, 1998, ‘An Examination of violence and gender role portrayals in video games’, Sex Roles , 38 (5-6): 425-42
    • J. B. Funk, 1993, ‘Re-evaluating the impact of computer games’, Clinical Paediatrics , 32: 86-90
    • Aleks Krotoski, 2004, ‘Chicks and joysticks: an exploration of women and gaming’, ELSPA white paper, http://www.elspa.com/assets/files/c/chicksandjoysticksanexplorationofwomenandgaming_176.pdf
    • Carolyn Marvin, 1988, When Old Technologies Were New. Thinking about Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century , New York: Oxford University Press
    • Steven Poole, 2000, Trigger Happy: the inner life of videogames , London: Fourth Estate
    • Steven Poole, 2004, Trigger Happy: videogames and the entertainment revolution , New York: Arcade Publishing
    • G. R. Schott & K.R. Horrell, 2000, ‘Girl gamers and their relationship with the gaming culture’ Convergence , 6: 36-53