Tomorrow morning, I will hand in 10,876 words, 16 images and 50 pages about gender and video games as my third year thesis for my Visual culture degree. The last few weeks have been a bit of a slog, particulary with the student paper re-launch comically timed to be the same day as deadline day, but I have finally finished! I am overall very happy with the finished thing. I got a few people to read it and (surprisingly) they found it really interesting and not a sloggish read. My aunt has already stolen a few sentences about the words education/culture (paideia), play (paidia) and children (paides) all having the same root and she is shocked by my arguement that video games are just another way to subordinate women’s use of technology.
If anyone would like to read it, please get in touch. I would love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, here is the synopsis to mull over.
While video games are a relatively new media form, existing for less than 50 years, they are now one of the most popular forms of entertainment and a £6 billion industry worldwide. However, the subliminal messages situated in even the most popular video games such as Super Mario Bros speak of capitalist consumption and female subordination. These ideas create stereotype of video game culture as a male pastime of adolescence, with the home console an object of male desire.
This study charts a patriarchal history of video games and technology, where women use technology as a tool while men use it as a plaything. But when the Nintendo Wii was released in 2006, its revolutionary motion sensor controls and game catalogue was intended to encourage more women and first time gamers to play together socially. Does the Wii have the ability to change the way women interact with video games, or does the console further alienate their understanding of technology?
I use feminist and postmodernist theory as well as theories on social play to approach this subject to formulate my own ideas on how men and women play, supported by my own research and observations of people playing the Wii. I argue that video games are a weapon in a battle of the sexes for gender equality with technology.
While I am twittering on the subject of my dissertation (though seamlessly frolicking between male cross dressing in cinema – will explain later), I ffffound this image that I had to share with a geeky friend on his birthday, so thought it would be rude not to share it with the rest of the interweb. I can already see myself as Princess Peach – but only because my great grandma had exactly the same dress and hump stylings. Not because I am a massive geek (obviously).
Originally from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jublin/3398500907/
Soooo… Dissertation time.
For the mammoth 10,000 word social life killer, I am investigating how gender roles are played out in video games. My initial thinking was to use the Wii as a focal point to how the gender gap is lessening through group play, but I am now starting to wander from the console as I am struggling to figure out which particular games I need to deconstruct. Saying that though, my research has some up with some interesting findings so far, particularly the reasons why boys and girls like/don’t like certain games and playing styles. And then I find comic gems like this (a spoof of the PC vs Mac advert)
Anyway… I have done another survey. Even if you don’t play video games it would be lovely if you could fill it in. I would love you forever.
Perusing the leaflet stack while having an tipple on a rainy Sunday afternoon; I came across a promo book for a recently released game DJ Hero. In my typical gender based game analysis that is based on my imagination, I initially blasted the concept, complaining developers will make a game out of anything.
This preconception was further solidified when I started reading the promotional wanky literature, filled with gems like; “You’re going to buy DJ Hero because its… well, brilliant. Don’t fight it. Its got cooler mates than you have, and you’ll only improve you social station by hanging round with it.” Yes, a overpriced chunk of plastic that will be eventually used as a book rest defiantly has higher social credentials than I have. Much more than if I actually purchased a pair of 1210′s. Maybe that is the reason Technic’s production line is coming to an end; the kids decided it would be much cooler than to learn how to pretend to be a DJ, with someone elses generic commercial play lists, rather than experience the pure euphoria of finding a track on vinyl that you have been searching for what feels an eternity and then share your joy with an empty dance floor at a house party.
Maybe I am being too hasty. Besides, if DJ Shadow hand picked the soundtrack it can’t all be that bad eh? Well, there are at least 4 tracks from each of the artists that were generous enough to provide themselves as avatars. One one hand, you can play as Daft Punk, the most elusive yet omnipresent DJ’s on the planet, or Eminem who has also, like you, has probably never touched a cross fader in his life. I also can’t imagine a better floor filler than the mighty Vanilla Ice vs Paula Abdul. It sounds a bit too much like Simon Cowell has stuck his grubby mits another musical money pie.
The game has got a wealth of turntable and musical genius’s interweave into the program. The one and only Grandmaster Flash provides the narration for the tutorial, and it looks like you might need him. It looks bloody impossible. Maybe it might be easier to actually learn how to mix?