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Mac129 Video Games And Representation
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Mac129 Video Games And Representation



Lecture slides used in MAC129 Intro to Cyberculture

Lecture slides used in MAC129 Intro to Cyberculture



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    Mac129 Video Games And Representation Mac129 Video Games And Representation Presentation Transcript

    • Video games &Representation
      MAC129 - Cyberculture
    • Economic success: GTA IV
      Released April 2008
      Day 1 sales: 3.6 million ($310m)
      Week 1 sales: 6 million (£500m)
      August 2008
      Sales: 10 million
      June 2009
      Sales: 13.2 million
      Source: http://www.vgchartz.com/games/index.php?name=grand+theft+auto+IV
    • 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
    • First game?
      Tennis For Two 1958 (William Higginbotham)
      Spacewar! 1962
      (Steven Russell)
    • Cold War kids1950s….
      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
    • 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)
    • The console wars
    • The console wars today
    • Popular claims about video games
      Negative associations – health and violence
      Columbine shooting: Doom
      Car-jacking: Grand Theft Auto
      Stabbings: Manhunt
    • (Un)popular claims about video games
      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’
    • Games emerge from a cultural context
      US military funding?
    • Always a ‘politics’ in every representation
      Representations are never innocent.
      Representations are always a ‘construction’ in accordance with the producer’s politics.
    • Representation and race
      Black culture as animalistic, subservient, sexual, violent and dangerous
    • Resident Evil 5 Race Row
    • Representations of gender
      Women as domestic, maternal, naïve, consumers, etc
    • http://www.feministgamers.com/?p=466
    • Representation of gender
      Feminist critics have argued that many media texts represent women as:
      Sex objects
      Dutiful housewives / virginal daughters
      Mad, bad, dangerous women who need punishment
      Are video games any different?
      Jiggle physics?
      See also:
      ‘Top 10 Boobies in Video Games’
      ‘Sexy Video Game Babes’
    • Game design
      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
      Gansmoet al, 2003
    • Gender in games
      Traditional stereotype of femininity evoked
      Gansmo (2003): little understanding within the industry about how game design might be linked to gender socialisation
    • Consequences of stereotypes…
      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
    • Women do play games!?
      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
      Alexanda (2009):
      Female console gamers grew from 23 to 28 percent in 2009
    • Krotoski, 2004: 10
    • The Wii and women?
      ‘Nintendo's Wii console captures new game market’
      John Sterlicchi, Oct 2007
    • Domestic access
      Access to gadgets in home is not gender neutral
      Highly masculine and potentially hostile to females
      Is this changing?
    • Domestic context
      a greater percentage of girls’ play has been centred in or around the home
      females still spend more time engaged in domestic labour than males (typically 1.5 hours per day more than males in the UK)
    • 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:
    • Game content
      Relatively low number of playable female characters
      Abundance of stereotypes
      Masculine themes
      The damsel in distress?
    • 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
      2006: Cooking Mama released
      2008: Wii Fit released
    • 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%)
    • See: http://www.remedialthoughts.com/2008/11/can-women-in-games-ever-be-more-than.html
    • Positive figures?
    • 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
      Positive changes ahead?
    • Sources and further reading
      Leigh Alexander, 2009, ‘NPD: Female Gamer Population Increasing On Consoles’, Gamasutra, http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24245
      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
      AleksKrotoski, 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