May 9, 2008

Literacy: Another Privilege to Access Games

Filed under:Education, Gamer Culture, Privilege — Lake Desire @ 10:58 am

Games are for kids, right? That’s a popular perception, or one gamers like myself seem to have about how nongamers see games.

But I’ve been playing Pokémon and Twilight Princess with my friend’s six year old son, and I find it amazing how much supposed “kids” games or kid friendly games rely on intensive reading skills. And Pokémon is a game I don’t find especially intellectually challenging, yet there is still a huge barrier dependent on reading to not only to intake the story but even navigate playing.

I appreciate games that are smart and well written and challenging. I don’t mind reading in my games. But I do want to note the high level of literacy necessary to comprehend and play games limits accessibility, even in supposed kids games. And kids aren’t the only folks around who aren’t great readers, especially with classism and racism in the U$ educational system that particularly unprepares poor folks and people of color to have the same reading skills as middle class white folks bred for college.


March 21, 2006

Call for Submissions: Games and Culture

Filed under:Ludology, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 12:38 pm

To break the silence, here’s the call for submissions for Games and Culture. The first issue of the journal, which came out in January 2006, can be viewed through a free trial membership. The next issue is due out in April. The journal discusses:

Games and Culture’s scope will include the socio-cultural, political, and economic dimensions of gaming from a wide variety of perspectives, including textual analysis, political economy, cultural studies, ethnography, critical race studies, gender studies, media studies, public policy, international relations, and communication studies. Other possible arenas include:

* Issues of gaming culture related to race, class, gender, and sexuality

* Issues of game development

* Textual and cultural analysis of games as artifacts

* Issues of political economy and public policy in both US and international arenas

Right up our ally, eh?

Via Virgule on LJ.


February 27, 2006

Reconstructing Video Games

Filed under:Feminism, Gender, Ludology, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 1:50 pm

Just as I’m identifying the social body as a type of virtual body for my research paper on the traffic of virtual bodies, I find the latest issue of Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture is on The Play’s the Thing: Games, Gamers and Gaming Cultures via Academic Gamers.

Articles of interest include Geeks at Play: Doing Masculinity in an Online Gaming Site, More Than Girlfriends, Geekettes, and Gladiatixes: Women, Feminism, and Fantasy Role-Playing Games, and When a Killer Body Isn’t Enough’: Cross-Gender Identification in Action-Adventure Video Games, among lots of other titles.

I’ll review the journal when I can and hopefully report back with my responses to some of the articles.


February 5, 2006

CFP: Videogames and the Alien/Other

Filed under:Gender, Ludology, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 1:19 am

Via Academic Gamers, there is a call for papers for Second Annual University of Florida Game Studies Conference. The topic is Videogames and the Alien / Other. Suggested themes and topics:

Presenters should focus their submissions on one of several key themes:

* Player-Characters and the function of the outsider

* Gaming cultures and subcultures

* Portraying gender, race, religion and the avatar

* Monstrosity, bodies and avatars

* Otherness and online societies (e.g. MMORPG’s)

* Xenophobia and alterity in representations of ‘enemies.’

* Designing the Alien/Other through AI and NPCs

* Video game villains and anti-heroes

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

* The Other and the industry — the role of independent game developers.

* Localization and the alleged erasure of cultural difference through video games.

* Marketing and approaching new demographics.

* Becoming the Other in online role-playing communities.

* Colonialism and Orientalism within historical simulations.

* The representation (or lack) of religious pluralism in video games.

* Representations of race, gender, and/or sexual preference in games.

* The Evolution of the Alien/Other in games.

* Becoming Other — choosing a moral path inKOTOR or Black and White.

* Subversive game play.

* Psychoanalysis, video games and the other/Other.

* Becoming Alien/Other in online games.

* Alien/Other and the differences inherent in console or interface configurations.

* Close studies of specific Alien/Others and tropes of Alien/Otherness.

I look forward to seeing what papers are produced, and hope women as the other in video games will be explored.

Abstracts are due March 1, 2006.


January 4, 2006

Playing With Others

The latest issue of The Daedalus Project is out, including Playing With Someone (Part 2). The study focuses on MMO players who play with romantic partners and their parents or children.

As a single Final Fantasy XI player, I find it interesting that:

About 80% of female players and 60% of male players are in a romantic relationship. On a tangential note, this gives rise to an interesting “singles” imbalance. If we assume an 85:15 gender ratio and the noted singles rate, then for every single woman in an MMO, there are 10 single men.

I didn’t realize I am quite so outnumbered. My linkshell (guild) on FFXI seems to have a fairly even gender balance. I plan on bringing this up next time I play (which unfortunately probably won’t be for a while–my courses just started and I don’t have a PC).

I find it interesting that almost 27% of female MMO players are introduced by a romantic partner, versus 1.1% of males introduced by a romantic partner. I’m curious how many of the respondents are in same sex relationships.

In other news, the latest issue of the Carnival of Feminists is out over at reappropriate.


December 6, 2005

Want to design video games? Go to college and hit the books

Filed under:Education, News — Lake Desire @ 1:05 pm

Game Politics has found an article with a counter-opinion to the article posted yesterday. From The Los Angeles Times:

Video game development is highly complex. It’s right-brain people working with left-brainers to merge storytelling, character development and animation with increasingly sophisticated and ever-changing technologies. Students who want to succeed in the real world need to hit the ground running, and these programs are designed to give them that practical experience.

I don’t think it’s as simple as “right-brain” and “left-brain” people coming together harmoniously, but I do like the value given to game studies and a multi-disciplinary approach to educating aspiring game designers discussed in the article. But “training technologists to think like entertainers”? I don’t know much about film studies, but the idea leaves a little knot of unease in my stomach.


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?