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

Jen Malkowski malkowjc at miamioh.edu
Wed Apr 15 00:14:02 AEST 2015

I will happily accept your diction critique, Shira. "Dismissive" is
indeed a more accurate reflection of the dynamic that exists than
"maligned" (or, as I rather inelegantly put it in my original post,
"somewhat/sometimes maligned") and is more what I meant to express.

I like the spirit of your posts in challenging our kneejerk reaction
as academics to take as our premise that we're talking about a
Problem, and I think you're especially right to question that in Video
Game Studies. I, too, am aware of lots of great academic work in this
area coming down the pipeline and can't wait to read it all!

But if I try to step back from my own work and academia a bit and take
the larger sweep of the game industry and culture, my gut response is
that the problems are real, acute, and unequivocally worse than in
related areas like film and television. Yes, the ranks of smart people
with good politics who are making games and creating discourse about
games are growing and gaining more of a voice in the culture, and
that's deeply heartening. But have we had or could we even imagine a
movement like GamerGate emerging so prominently in film or TV culture?
And even if we don't measure by the extremes, is there any common
equivalent experience in film or TV culture to, say, the ones that
women gamers often have when they try to play a multiplayer shooter
and are openly female on the voice chat?

This topic brings to mind a great passage from Adrienne Shaw's 2015
*Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer
Culture.* Shaw reflects that "digital games seem to be the least
progressive form of media representation, despite being one of the
newest mediated forms," and laments, "Despite a refrain in media
studies and contemporary politics that 'it gets better,' I find myself
as a media researcher and player asking that if that is true, why
hasn't it gotten better in games?" (6). I'd amend that to: even if we
can point to lots of ways it is getting better in games, why is it
still so bad?

These are my own perceptions, but I'm genuinely curious to hear from
other contributors about what they think.


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