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

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Wed Apr 15 05:00:20 AEST 2015

This question may be primitive, but let me ask it anyway: what is "AAA
games"? To me, this month's discussion has an inbred quality (I don't know
whether this is the right word for it) that earlier ones did not even when
the area  discussed was outside my immediate field of expertise. I could
follow the structural framework of the argument and its clarifying
relevance for other fields. All I understand in this discussion is that a
community of producers or consumers (artists, scholars, etc.) of digital
games, mostly women, are unhappy because there are obstacles to their
creations or the available games do not represent women fully or are
actively hostile to them. I don't see any examples of how this occurs-- I
may be missing them-- except for references by name or title to works none
of which is specifically discussed.

I have a second question that may open up the perimeters of this
discussion: are there statistics showing the breakdown by gender (and also
by age) of people who play digital games?


On Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 3:59 AM, Stacey Mason <stcmason at ucsc.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Brenda raises several important questions which all point to the ambiguity
> of the problem of “women in games,” while Shira rightly asks which problem
> we’re talking about. The hostile environments around women in the industry
> from both the inside and the outside have been topics hotly debated. This
> year’s #1ReasontoBe Panel at GDC saw divided sentiments around how we
> should even talk about such problems, with industry veteran Amy Hennig
> suggesting that we’re scaring young women off through well-intended efforts
> to warn them, alongside a talk given by the empty chair in the room: a
> powerful segment in which the crowd fell silent while a series of anonymous
> quotes from women too afraid to speak flashed on screen.  The industry
> seems to agree that these are the problems of toxic masculinity run amok,
> but seems to think it’s too complicated to parse and things never go much
> further.
> As for the representation within the games themselves, we’re seeing
> positive change there. Videogames are more interesting and varied with more
> people able to make them than ever before. We’re seeing more and more games
> that use systems and novel forms of representation to creatively convey
> personal experiences. The community around altgames and platforms like
> itch.io are especially promising.
> One problem that I note throughout our enumeration of other issues is the
> question of legitimacy: formalist approaches being more legitimate within
> the academy; male developers being more legitimate within the industry; AAA
> games (generally more masculine-coded) being more legitimate as games; the
> cultural attack on women who are seen to be less legitimate as gamers; and
> though we haven’t mentioned it, I would add the issue of distribution and
> monetization platforms like itch.io and Patreon being seen as less
> legitimate than established avenues.
> These may indeed be separate problems, and it’s difficult to whether a
> lack of legitimacy is a cause or effect (probably both). However, being
> able to point to the arbitrariness of some of these power differences is a
> start.
> Stacey Mason <http://staceymason.net>
> Eugene Cota-Robles Fellow, Computer Science
> Expressive Intelligence Studio
> Center for Games and Playable Media
> University of California, Santa Cruz
> Twitter <http://twitter.com/stcymsn>  |  LinkedIn
> <http://www.linkedin.com/pub/stacey-mason/17/b85/844/>
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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