December 11, 2005

Violent Games Influencing Television?

Filed under:Gender, News, Violence — Lake Desire @ 11:16 am

Game Politics comments on an opinion piece by Catharine Dawson March in Toronto’s Globe and Mail.

The fickle young male audience so many advertisers long for is usually too preoccupied with other distractions to watch TV — they’re hooked on computers and their iPods. More than anything, they’re playing video games, which leads television producers to simplistically conclude that their programs should emulate gaming — and its misogyny and violence.

“There’s an inseparable link now between the type of content you see in video games and what you’re starting to see in motion pictures and TV,” says Tim Winter, executive director of the Parents Television Council, a conservative U.S. watchdog group. In fact, video games aren’t just influencing narrative, they are the storyline. Last month, CSI: Miami and Killer Instinct portrayed amoral gamers going off-line and into the streets, scoring points by killing real people.

Television has been misogynistic since before the advent of video games. March herself points out that “[d]amsels in distress have always been a part of storytelling,” when she compares the past and present portrayal of women and violence on television from the past to this TV season.

I don’t currently watch much television, but I’m curious to track down the episodes she mentioned and see how the gamers are portrayed on those shows. Has anyone seen them that would like to comment?


December 5, 2005

Degrees in Video Games “Kidnap American Education”

Filed under:Education, Gender, News, Violence — Lake Desire @ 1:27 pm

From Game Politics. Political science professor Ted Reuter of DePauw University writes an editorial entitled Degrees in Video Games “Kidnap American Education”.

Reuter sites data from the 16-bit era:

Unfortunately, children seem to enjoy violence in video games. In a 1993 study, psychologists asked 357 seventh and eighth graders for their preferences among five categories of video games. Thirty-two percent said they preferred games that involved fantasy violence.

Children do not have an innate attraction to violence. Violence is perpetuated throughout society beginning with attitudes of masculine entitlement and the ways children are raised within gender roles (boys are taught to hide emotion, for example). Perhaps we should look at how video games normalize violence rather than eliminating them from the institutions that I hope would consider the relationship between games and violence.

I’m curious what the other four categories the young adults could choose from were. I’m sure many of the games I enjoyed as a child in 1993 and I enjoy now qualify as “fantasy violence.”

In addition, the content of video games may influence children’s atititudes toward gender roles. In Nintendo games, women are often depicted as victims. The covers of Nintendo games show males striking a dominant pose. Many games are based upon a scenario in which a woman is kidnapped or has to be rescued

Game Politics responds with, “The prof offers no evidence to back up this claim, which, frankly, leaves us baffled.”

I’m not baffled. Rescuing a princess is the premise of two Nintendo series I grew up playing. I haven’t played any newer Zelda or Mario titles recently, so I don’t know if rescuing the princess is still the premise in those games.

I don’t need to look hard to find the game covers Reuter could be describing. Performing a search on Amazon for Game Cube, the first image that shows up is for a Mario Party 7 Bundle. Look at Toadette, Peach, and Daisy’s position on the box.

Rueter ends with:

Offering degrees in video game design is to kidnap American education. Higher education needs to be rescued from such destructive nonsense.

I’m amused by comparing Reuter’s conclusion with his gripe with games in the previous paragraph.

I want to play games free of sexism. Removing the study of video games and game design majors from higher education is not going to change contemporary gender roles. How else are those women’s studies majors going to find their way into game development?