[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2 on -empyre: GAMES AND REPRESENTATION

shira chess shira.chess at gmail.com
Tue Apr 14 05:12:32 AEST 2015

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

I would like to pose a question to the other panelists and whoever
else feels compelled to respond:
What, exactly, do we think is the problem?

All of the conversations from the last week have been approaching this
as though there is a tangible problem (not always the same one,
though). I think this might be a misguided perspective.

Jen has suggested (and this is a fair suggestion) that the problem is
that identity/gaming is a somewhat maligned area of inquiry. I
certainly accept this to an extent, but I don't really see it as
particularly more maligned than any other mode of academic studies of
identity politics. As I had previously noted, we tend to silo
ourselves and create otherness based on the patriarchal structure at
the core of academia. I do not see gaming as distinctive in this, and
really it broaches a larger problem.

In terms of the original concerns of gaming and identity, we actually
have made some -although not astounding headway. While sex is only one
matrix to judge by, in the last 4 years the number of women in the
gaming industry has doubled. Those numbers are tricky, I know and they
are not startling. But they are something. I would even go as far as
to say that it seems that other areas of diversity in the industry has

In terms of availability of a variety of games, that has increased
substantially, too. Are those games mocked both in pop press and by
the gaming industry? Absolutely. But they are a start and they are
still figuring out what they want to be.

In terms of considering the images of game characters in AAA gaming, I
am (honestly) uninterested. Once again, this is not dissimilar to
other modes of media. Game-based culture often deals with
sexist/racist/heterosexist imagery just as film, tv, music, etc does.
I am certainly not saying this is a good thing, but I am saying that
it is not distinctive to game culture.

And then, gamergate. Is that what we are all really talking about?
Because that, of course, is a problem. But it is a problem that has
historical roots that can easily be traced back to the Atari crash in
the 80s. (In fact, a lot of GGers use this as "proof" of the problem
with "ethics in game journalism".) Gamer culture *is* a problem but
it's a messy problem without a clear resolution.

We've been having this conversation for almost a week now, but we all
seem to be talking about separate "problems" - so perhaps lets break
this down a bit more.

On Sat, Apr 11, 2015 at 6:03 PM, Aubrey Anable
<aubrey.anable at utoronto.ca> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I’m really enjoying all of the contributions to this discussion.
> Brenda’s astute point about the mutually constitutive relationship between characters, the affordances created by the game as system, and the players is right on: “Empathy or identification with the notion of the player-character as defined by the affordances and environment of the game is fundamental to the enjoyment of playing. So in my view, representation of identity matters, not only in terms of NPCs but also in terms of the players themselves.”
> In my previous post, I didn’t mean to suggest that I think computation and representation are actually separate—quite the opposite. I’m just struck by how some very prominent figures in game studies seem to want to keep them separate. TreaAndrea brought our attention to an example of this in Ian Bogost’s recent article in The Atlantic. In Bogost’s formulation, it is in systems—not representation of identities through characters—where the true expressive potential of games resides. One of the problems I have with this formulation is that it presumes that players (and their identities) and game creators (and their identities) are not really part of the system—they only interact with it. I guess I would like to see a broader conceptualization of “systems” that incorporates things like identity and representation into how systems have expressive power.
> Aubrey Anable
> Cinema Studies Institute
> University of Toronto
> 2 Sussex Ave.
> Toronto, ON M5S 1J5
> (647) 997-0570
> aubrey.anable at utoronto.ca
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

More information about the empyre mailing list