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

Isabelle Arvers iarvers at gmail.com
Wed Apr 15 22:14:37 AEST 2015


I am following this discussion with a lot of interest as identity and 
gender representation in video games were the subject of two of my past 
machinima exhibitions. The first machinima exhibition - Identity and 
Otherness in videogames and machinima 
- was about the representation of the other in video games as it is most 
of the times an alien, a zombie, an ennemy, a villain or a terrorist... 
Besides machinima, i also curated an independant game - Way 
<http://www.makeourway.com/> - in which you had to follow the 
instructions of a stranger if you wanted to succeed and win the game. 
Way is a 2 player game and when you connect to the server, you had to 
send a twitt in order to find somebody to play with you. Then, you will 
have to follow its instructions and trust this stranger in order to 

The second exhibition - Machinigirrlzz 
- was about feminism and gender in video games with artworks of Angela 
Washko <http://angelawashko.com/home.html>, known for her feminist 
performances inside World of Warcraft as well as Georgie Roxby Smith 
<http://www.georgieroxbysmith.com/> who did an action inside the game 
Grand Theft Auto, in which the main character commits suicide in front 
of other players online. After this exhibition, I was interviewed by the 
online magazin Slate about the gamergate 
<http://www.slate.fr/story/95321/lecons-francaises-gamergate>, and why, 
in my point of view, almost nobody talked about it in France. What I 
answered as it is in french is that, for me, it is included in a larger 
sexist matter in France, as we still have 16% of difference between 
salaries for men and women and as in the artworld, even if 60% of the 
students are women, only 10% of female artists are exhibited. The same 
in technology, so the problem in games look like an epiphenomenon..

You already mentionned the work of Auntiepixellante - Dis4ya - in a 
previous post, what I also find very interesting is her book: "Rise of 
the videogame zinesters" . This book is " an attempt to shift the 
balance of our dialogues about videogames a little. when our culture 
discusses videogames, it mentions corporations, blockbusters, and a 
hyper-masculinized “gaming” culture. rarely does the idea of the small, 
authored, self-published game get much air in our discussion of art, 
even though it’s these games that are the most important to games’ 
relevance to a broader range of human experience. nothing is more 
harmful to an art form than a monolithic perspective or the restriction 
of the means of creation to a privileged few."

I also beleive that we need to promote and show and discuss more the 
games produced by the independant game scene, students and artists. I 
always recommand people who don't play a lot and don't want to buy any 
console, to download the Pirate kart 
<http://www.piratekart.com/>compilations. There are now more than 1000 
games to download for free on a PC, most of them are not totally 
finished, but thanks to this profusion of non typical games, it opens 
the doors to an entire new way to consider what are video games 
nowadays. And if we focus more on this type of games, if they become 
more wellknown by the audience - gamers and non gamers - it could change 
the debate about representation. At least, I hope so!

Art and games curator

Le 15/04/2015 13:41, shira chess a écrit :
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Murat, in my opinion it is some combination of those two thing:
> capitalism and sexism. The economic system gui

> ding video games is as
> such that in the 80s there was a splintering of console systems,
> developing into a unique system where now every time a major game
> comes out, the industry needs to produce several different full
> versions of the same product. Mobile and casual games do not need this
> kind of budget and so they become quickly dismissed on the market as
> real games.
> So, then, while over 50 percent of video game players are women those
> games are not treated of the same value (very similar to the romance
> novel or other forms of popular women's media as you implied). There
> are several genres that fall into this category: social network games
> (such as Farmville), time management games (such as Diner Dash), and
> Hidden Object Games (such as the Ravenhearst series) all are
> constructed with the presumption of a woman audience. These games
> often are made to appeal to women, but also essentialize expectations
> of femininity into their design, often conflating work and play in
> troubling ways. (I would go into a deeper description of these games
> but I feel like that would create an overwhelming number of
> paragraphs. But I'm happy to refer you to things or email off-list so
> as not to inundate everyone else.)
> That said, as Aubrey wisely noted, part of the problem is, indeed, the
> computer science one. Games programs are still finding their home, and
> often get housed in computer science departments. But this is a
> complex problem and there are other things at play here: notably
> "quality of life" issues in the video game industry that are often
> more of a problem for women than for young men. Industry crunches
> (particularly for AAA games) often require many hours of work close to
> deadlines that become difficult for women (and men) trying to start
> families.
> Best,
> Shira
> On Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 12:21 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Shira, thank you for your clear and succinct response. The way you describe it, the tension between big markets (AAA games) and more specialized ones is not much different from the one between big budget (Hollywood, etc.) and indie films or popular writing (novels, etc.) and poetry, etc. Seen from that angle,it seems to me the tension is inherent to capitalism where the profit motive (selling to the largest market possible) is paramount, rather than gender prejudice (unless practiced unconsciously against economic self-interest) or any other kind of prejudice.
>> Or is it gender prejudice in the work place where certain jobs are not available to women or to gays, etc.? In relation to this, Audrey made a very interesting point: the split between humanities and computer sciences, there being fewer women in computer sciences. Does anyone remember Larry Sumner's comment that women are not good in sciences. There, prejudices definitely exist. It seems gender imbalance is endemic in Silicon Valley. Is it particularly, even more so in the field of digital games?
>> Shira did you say more women play digital games than men? If so, I would have expected more games geared to "female sensibilities"  (as there are "women's novels," etc.). Are there such games? Is there such a digital genre? The issue of content seems to be very important in the discussions here, but I am not clear in what way?
>> (Personally, I am not a personal devotee of games, digital or otherwise. I prefer involved crossword puzzles. My experience of them, in the nature of the clues they give, is that they are refreshingly androgynous.)
>> Ciao,
>> Murat
>> On Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 6:51 PM, Aubrey Anable <aubrey.anable at utoronto.ca> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Shira—Thank you for putting some necessary pressure on the discourse of being maligned. I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement to the many good points made by Jen and Brenda.
>>> I do think it’s important to celebrate the more diverse gaming landscape that has developed over the past few years--in terms of whose playing and whose designing games. My comments here have mostly been about my frustrations with some blind spots in academic approaches to analyzing and understanding games. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I would like to suggest that the problems we have all been identifying--in the industry, the culture, and in scholarly approaches--are connected.
>>> For example, I think it is a problem that most game design programs in North American universities are closely affiliated with Computer Science. Computer Science departments have a big gender problem in terms of being unable—for complex reasons—to attract and retain women in the field. If these are the programs that feed into the gaming industry, we are still a long way off from increasing the numbers of women in programming jobs. At the same time, courses in “game studies” from a humanities or a social scientific approach are taught elsewhere on campus, often with little or no direct connection with what’s going on over in Computer Science. This is a problem that affects who goes to work in the industry, what kind of work they do in the industry, and deepens the divide between ways of knowing and understanding video games in the broader culture.
>>> And by the way, Brenda, I would love to hear your thoughts on the deeper reasons behind GamerGate, as I’m sure others would.
>>> Aubrey Anable
>>> Cinema Studies Institute
>>> University of Toronto
>>> 2 Sussex Ave.
>>> Toronto, ON
>>> M5S 1J5
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Isabelle Arvers
Curator & art critic
ia at isabellearvers.com
Skype ID : zabarvers
Twitter: zabarvers
Youtube: www.youtube.com/zabarvers

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20150415/6b810bc0/attachment.html>

More information about the empyre mailing list