Week 8 — Audiences and Experiences

Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: new perspectives on gender and gaming, by Yasmin B. Kafai

As part of the research for the coursework, I had already read excerpts of this book, the one tasked for this week’s assignments included. I used it as part of my research on the topic “male gaze” as the statistical data presented by the book is outdated as of 2021 (there are mentions to numbers dating back to 2006 which no longer reflect the reality). The excerpt was very informative on bring awareness (by stating facts) to the huge difference between the number of women and men in the industry, something that has been changing (for the better) in the last few years. Another important subject the excerpt treated is the fact that regardless of the number of women and girls playing videogames, they were not considered as either part of the target audience or a target audience on their own, which implicated a very male-centred design of games (characters, dialogues, motives, etc.). Luckily, the time has changed these views (not all, but made significant progress) and nowadays both female developers and players are seeing their presence rewarded in the industry and the games they play.

‘‘I Can Defend Myself’’: Women’s Strategies for Coping With Harassment While Gaming Online, by Amanda C. Cote

This text was very informative in presenting the harassment-related problems women face in the gaming world, something that is despicable in any sort of context., and yet, is a reality that is very much alive in 2021. Leaving the morality (or lack of it) of these hideous situations, it’s empowering to see that people who suffer from online discrimination in videogames have found ways to fight it back and support each other in an effort to eradicate these problems which have sent many players away from online gaming, something they would certainly enjoy if the community weren’t treating them disrespectfully. Among other techniques women used to cope with harassment were avoiding playing with strangers, something men do not usually do as they are not subject to those situations, and camouflaging their gender, where they would not specify their gender in their gamer tags nor speak during live voice chats, all that to avoid being the target of stupid jokes and words beyond inappropriate… shameful and revolting!

A Pedestal, A Table, A Love Letter: Archaeologies of Gender in Videogame History, by Laine Nooney

The question this study seeks to answer is a very important one: “Why are they [women] there [in game history] in the way that they are?”, and I believe the author succeeded in providing some understanding on the topic. The first thing people must be aware of is that women were first introduced in the history of videogames as outsiders, someone who was different to the common player (straight, white, male), and to my beliefs, as some sort of act of mercy or pity, completely disrespecting the many generations of women and girls who have been playing and making games for years. Though her presence did not cover for the lack of accuracy in representing women in games, it was nice to see Roberta Williams amongst the “Game Gods”, making a stand for all women in games! For me, not being an integrant of the female community, I cannot really speak for them, but I imagine that seeing Roberta Williams and her work, as well as all the work made in her honour such as her anthology, must feel very rewarding, inspirational and motivational to pursue your dreams (whatever they might be, games-related or not) and to not fear speaking your minds out and revolutionize the industry.

Damsel in Distress: Part 1 — Tropes vs Women in Video Games, by Feminist Frequency

This video was very well constructed, had plausible and verified arguments to back their points-of-view, and was very informative and supportive in providing clear evidence of situations of “damsel in distress” and “woman in the refrigerator”, which are anti-feminist strategies used by developers to benefit a male character’s story arc, where the woman is seen as a fragile entity in need of protection. As I mentioned in another analysis, the situation has been improving and taking the right steps to abolish these diminishing depictions of female characters, but there is still work to do as some widely famous game franchises like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda are still integrating the same old disrespectful and inaccurate strategies in their recent games.