December 24, 2007

White gaming knight

Filed under:Online Communities, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:58 am

I’m at my parents’ house for the holidays, and actually have time to go online and catch up on the old blogs I used to read.

Jeff on Feminist Allies writes in What Men Can Do Wednesday: Avoid Being the Hero that the need to be rescued is a gendered act. (And illustrates his post with some lovely pictures of knights and LEGOS.)

We all need to be rescued, from time to time. That’s what friends, lovers and family are for, in part. Our social networks are also, to some degree, our rescuers, our safety nets. There’s no shame in wanting to help people, or needing some help, gender be damned. However, men are trained from boyhood that they not only need to tend to their own needs, but they must rescue those women who need saving.

The “white knight syndrome” is replayed in videogames, where I, the player, embody the white knight in so many of the games I love, Legend of Zelda, the most of last ten years of Final Fantasy games, even Paper Mario. Growing up, living in stories through gaming in a way I couldn’t through reading books or watching films that replayed the same white male heroic trope, no wonder I expected it when I went into videogame communities as a confused and depressed teenager. As I recently wrote about in Cerise, the guys there were more than willing to step up, in a very gendered and possessive way, and be my fucked-up hero. And I wanted it.

And what’s it do to my gender identity, my self esteem, my confidence in my agency, being the hero when I game, and then entering a community of folks who share my hobby and becoming the one that needs to be rescued?



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