Games are an important part of our lives. As we are growing up, we learn to negotiate boundaries, rules, and terms of relating with one another through games. They are part of our cultural fabric, and inform us in various ways about value, power and imagination. Games are also a space for social activities, and has the capacity to draw people together.
Digital technology developments have also spurred the popularity of video games. Mobile phones and personal computers are usually bundled with at least a couple of games, and gaming consoles like Sony Playstation and Nintendo Wii have become hugely profitable business. There are also role playing games that you can play with other people in real time, through the internet. Video games create a world of fantasy, where we can exercise our imagination, take on a different character and perform actions that are usually limited in the physical world.
But how do video games address women and girls? Much of the gaming industry, from the development of games themselves, to their content and representation, to surrounding advertising and marketing strategies and the milieu of online multiplayer role playing games, understands gender roles in stereotypical ways. Women are (hyper)sexualised and men are (hyper)aggressive. There are even some games, like massively popular Grand Theft Auto, that allows players to have sex with a sex worker, then beat her up to get their money back.
This is an outrageous and highly ridiculous phenomenon. We have all the technology and capacity at hand to create alternative, subversive, exploratory and transformative kinds of universes and representations, but our imagination is still stuck in the real world we live in - where sexism and violence against women perpetuates.
Take Back The Tech! Reclaim the possibilities of games with your imagination. Play, review and make your own!
- * Don't take someone else's word for it, check it out for yourself!
- * Part of the sexism that surrounds this industry is due to the understanding that more boys and men than women and girls are interested in games. Challenge this stereotype. Make a game-date with some friends and play.
- * If you are a regular gamer, then tell everyone what you think.
- * What games do you play? Whether these are board games or video games or games on your mobile phone. Let the game creators know what you think, and affect their development in the future. Recognise your power as a user and speak back!
- * Write them an email, review it in your blog or contribute to women and girls gaming communities such as: Feminist Gamers, Shrub, Girl Gamers and Grrlgamer.
- * Suggest alternative ways of how a game can be made.
- * For example, characters of the game, the rules, values given to particular strings of action. If the game's storyline is about a girl who only wears pink ribbons and loves to bake, then suggest a different wardrobe or activity. Or create your own games. Your imagination is the limit!
- * Design different kinds of female characters. Email us your image to: ideas AT takebackthetech * DOT net and we'll post them up as our hall of alternative female game role models.
- * Blog about your suggestions, tag it as takebackthetech, or leave a comment here.
Have fun, and happy gaming! :)