Mac129 Video Games And Representation


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Lecture slides used in MAC129 Intro to Cyberculture

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Mac129 Video Games And Representation

  1. 1. Video games &Representation <br />MAC129 - Cyberculture<br />
  2. 2. Economic success: GTA IV<br />Released April 2008<br />Day 1 sales: 3.6 million ($310m)<br />Week 1 sales: 6 million (£500m)<br />August 2008<br />Sales: 10 million<br />June 2009<br />Sales: 13.2 million<br />Source:<br />
  3. 3.
  4. 4. Historical business<br />A struggle to define a place for early games <br />(see Marvin, 1988; Poole, 2004)<br />Historical accounts tend to be lists of names and dates<br />
  5. 5. First game?<br />5<br />Tennis For Two 1958 (William Higginbotham)<br />Spacewar! 1962<br />(Steven Russell)<br />
  6. 6. Cold War kids1950s….<br />Emerged during a period of intense socio-economic and geo-political changes:<br />Space Race (USSR)<br />Cold War paranoia (nuclear anxiety)<br />Decline of heavy industry<br />Major changes in life style<br />Advent of domestic mass communication<br />Consumer confidence<br />
  7. 7. Game development…<br />Largely due to<br />“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” <br />(Kerr, 2006: 14; see also Haddon, 1988; 1993)<br />
  8. 8. The console wars<br /><br />
  9. 9. The console wars today<br />
  10. 10. Popular claims about video games<br />Negative associations – health and violence<br /><br />Columbine shooting: Doom<br /><br />Car-jacking: Grand Theft Auto<br /><br />Stabbings: Manhunt<br /><br />
  11. 11. (Un)popular claims about video games<br />Positive claims?<br />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)<br />Safe environment to enact fantasy<br />Creativity of ‘modders’<br />
  12. 12. Games emerge from a cultural context<br />US military funding?<br /><br />
  13. 13. Always a ‘politics’ in every representation<br />Representations are never innocent. <br />Representations are always a ‘construction’ in accordance with the producer’s politics. <br />
  14. 14. Representation and race<br />Black culture as animalistic, subservient, sexual, violent and dangerous<br />
  15. 15. Resident Evil 5 Race Row<br />
  16. 16.
  17. 17. Representations of gender<br />1950s<br />Women as domestic, maternal, naïve, consumers, etc<br />
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  19. 19.<br /><br /><br />
  20. 20. Representation of gender<br />Feminist critics have argued that many media texts represent women as:<br />Sex objects<br />Dutiful housewives / virginal daughters<br />Mad, bad, dangerous women who need punishment<br />Are video games any different?<br />Jiggle physics?<br /><br />See also:<br />‘Top 10 Boobies in Video Games’<br />‘Sexy Video Game Babes’ <br />
  21. 21. Game design<br />Studies of digital games have noted a ‘consistent pattern of male technocratic privilege’ <br />Williams, cited in Kerr, 2006: 19 <br />Game development & design, production, marketing & construction, dominated by heterosexual masculine fantasies<br />Gansmoet al, 2003<br />
  22. 22. Gender in games<br />Traditional stereotype of femininity evoked<br />Relationships<br />Romance<br />Emotions<br />Role-play<br />Gansmo (2003): little understanding within the industry about how game design might be linked to gender socialisation <br />
  23. 23. Consequences of stereotypes…<br />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<br />
  24. 24. Women do play games!?<br />Funk (1993): <br />75% of females play games at home (90% males)<br />Colwell and Payne (2000): <br />88% of females aged 12-14 play games regularly<br />ESA (2004): <br />39% of US gamers are female and females account for 40% of online players.<br />Krotoski (2004): <br />approx 25% of gamers are female in Europe, compared to 70% in Korea<br />Crawford & Gosling (2005): <br />Women much less likely to play the older they get<br />Alexanda (2009):<br />Female console gamers grew from 23 to 28 percent in 2009<br />
  25. 25. Krotoski, 2004: 10<br />25<br />
  26. 26. The Wii and women?<br />‘Nintendo&apos;s Wii console captures new game market’ <br />John Sterlicchi, Oct 2007<br /><br />
  27. 27. Domestic access<br />Access to gadgets in home is not gender neutral<br />Highly masculine and potentially hostile to females<br />Is this changing?<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
  28. 28.
  29. 29. Domestic context<br />Space <br />a greater percentage of girls’ play has been centred in or around the home<br />Time<br />females still spend more time engaged in domestic labour than males (typically 1.5 hours per day more than males in the UK)<br />
  30. 30. Gaming spaces outside the home<br />Predominantly masculine environments<br />arcades, pubs, motorway service stations<br />Women at LAN parties tend to be in a supportive role<br />When they do compete the media portrays them as:<br />Exotic<br />Sexualised<br />
  31. 31. Game content<br />Relatively low number of playable female characters<br />Abundance of stereotypes<br />Masculine themes<br />The damsel in distress?<br />
  32. 32. Positive moves?<br />1991: Nintendo release Barbie Game Girl for Game Boy<br />1996: Mattel release Barbie Fashion Designer<br />2000: The Sims <br />2003: Linden Research launches Second Life<br />2004: The Sims 2<br />2004: SCEEurope release karaoke title SingStar on PS2 <br />2006: Sony launches pink PS2 and PSP<br />2006: Cooking Mama released<br />2008: Wii Fit released<br />
  33. 33. Children Now study (2000)<br />92% games have a male lead (54% female)<br />50% women portrayed in a stereotypical way.<br />38% displayed women with significant body exposure (23% breasts; 31% thighs; 15% backsides; 31% stomachs/midriffs)<br />Female characters defined by ‘disproportionately large’ breasts (38%) and ‘excessively tiny’ waists (46%)<br />33<br />
  34. 34. See:<br />
  35. 35.
  36. 36. Positive figures?<br />
  37. 37. Conclusion<br />History of games has been male dominated<br />Industry can be conservative and not welcome change (can be risky)<br />Women increasingly more important to the industry<br />Positive changes ahead?<br />
  38. 38. Sources and further reading<br />Leigh Alexander, 2009, ‘NPD: Female Gamer Population Increasing On Consoles’, Gamasutra,<br />Jo Bryce & Jason Rutter, 2003, ‘Gender dynamics and the social and spatial organisation of computer gaming’, Leisure Studies, 22: 1-15<br />Jo Bryce, Jason Rutter and Cath Sullivan, 2006, ‘Digital games and gender’, in Jason Rutter & Jo Bryce (eds.), Understanding Digital Games, London: Sage.<br />Judith Butler, 1990, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, London: Routledge.<br />Children Now, 2000, Girls and Gaming: A Console Video Game Content Analysis, Oakland, CA: Children Now<br />J. Colwell & J. Payne, 2000, ‘Negative correlates of computer game play in adolescents’, British Journal of Psychology, 91: 295-310.<br />G. Crawford & V. Gosling, 2005, ‘Toys for boys? Women’s marginalization and participation as digital gamers’, Sociological Research Online, 10, (1),<br />T.L. Dietz, 1998, ‘An Examination of violence and gender role portrayals in video games’, Sex Roles, 38 (5-6): 425-42<br />J. B. Funk, 1993, ‘Re-evaluating the impact of computer games’, Clinical Paediatrics, 32: 86-90<br />AleksKrotoski, 2004, ‘Chicks and joysticks: an exploration of women and gaming’, ELSPA white paper,<br />Carolyn Marvin, 1988, When Old Technologies Were New. Thinking about Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century, New York: Oxford University Press<br />Steven Poole, 2000, Trigger Happy: the inner life of videogames, London: Fourth Estate<br />Steven Poole, 2004, Trigger Happy: videogames and the entertainment revolution, New York: Arcade Publishing<br />G. R. Schott & K.R. Horrell, 2000, ‘Girl gamers and their relationship with the gaming culture’ Convergence, 6: 36-53<br />