Reading Question for Kafai and Heeter, take 1

For tomorrow, your readings come from the Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat book. Just choose one of the essays to base your question on–your pick, based on which essay speaks to you most.

As a reminder, the assigned readings are as follows:

  • Kafai and Heeter (Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat) Preface.
  • Kafai and Heeter, Part 1 (Reflections on a Decade of Gender and Gaming) 1-46.

15 thoughts on “Reading Question for Kafai and Heeter, take 1

  1. Oliver Sutro

    “The most visible part of the girl games movement included so-called pink games for girls with traditional values of femininity.” Is this movement not simply reaffirming stereotypes that the feminist community is trying to quell? Is the capitalism of the united states a clear indicator of women’s general opinion?

  2. Avery Rain

    In Jenkins and Cassell’s reported study about educational video games in school, girls did twice as well on a game when it included ponies and balloons as opposed to pirates, ships, etc. This does not seem to fit into the differences between femme and butch qualities of games described by Brunner, but simply represents a difference in symbols used. From where might this difference in performance stem, and would it be reproduced if done with children today?

  3. Eleanor Krause

    Laurel claims that in her program Purple Moon “characters exhibited loyalty, honor, love and courage. They also struggled with gossip, jealousy, cheating, lipstick, smoking, exclusion, racism, poverty, materialism, and broken homes.” And boasts that these aspects “meet girls where they were, in the realities of their own lives.” Boys experience these problems in life too, why don’t their games have similar incorporations? Does this give insight into societal issues of gender equality? Are boys encouraged to escape to a fantasy world while girls are only expected/allowed to enter a world not so different from their own?

  4. Amelia Furlong

    Sims is the top-selling franchise game, and Jenkins and Cassell claim that it is a “gender-neutral” game. Yet doesn’t the Sims game perpetuate entirely female stereotypes? The characters go about their domestic duties, interact socially, problem solve and make friends. Doesn’t this completely fit the stereotype of the female game? Therefore, what does this say about the men that buy this game? Are they really craving games, too, that fit less into the “butch” game and more into the “femme?”

  5. Rajsavi Anand

    If we look at the market driven aspect of creating new games–i.e. pink games, and macho action games–what is the problem with games that appeal to both sexes such as the Sims? I find it interesting to think that even in this game, gender roles are still somewhat defined as women take care of the children in the first Sims game. So what should video game designers do when the only way to sell their games to both sexes is through making them appeal to a specific sex–i.e. giving them stereotypical ‘feminine’ traits?

  6. Maria Macaya

    “Gaming activities are not neutral or isolated acts, but involve a person’s becoming and acting in the world as part of the construction of a complex identity.”

    Does this mean that we shape our identity by conciously choosing to play videogames or not, and if we do, by which videogames we play? or is our identity shaped by the videogames we are exposed to or are likely to play wihout us realizing their effect on us?

  7. Laura Hendricksen

    Kafai and Heeter explain that a feminist movement willing to challenge the digital gender gap developed as a reaction to gendered assumptions that videogames were reserved for men. The authors mention that the « movement has emerged from a […] highly unstable alliance between feminist activists and industry leaders ».
    However, how do the political wills of feminists negotiate with commercial interests in the representation of gender in computer games? Aren’t companies instrumentalizing « gender » to increase their economic gains? Isn’t this goal opposite to the cause of feminists who intend to reveal how masculinity and feminity are cultural constructs?
    It seems to me that not only do both seek very different goals but also rely on an opposite understanding of the word « gender ».

  8. Amethyst Tate

    In the preface, the authors comment that due to lack of video games for females in the past, games labelled pink games and purple games. Pink games involved activities such as styling a barbie, while purple games focused on girls adjusting to their school environment (which sounds like the worst game idea EVER by the way). However, aren’t these games simply reinforcing conventional gender expectations by presenting stereotypical ideas of what females like to play? How are these limited options of girls games an answer to the issue of underrepresentation of females in video game culture? What about the females who enjoy the car racing games, fighting games etc., but don’t want to be subjected to degrading images of females or only be able to play a male character? What are their options?

  9. Luke Martinez

    Why is it that “the machine” aspect of the computer games appeal to males while “the problem solving” aspect of computer games appeal to females? How can something so digitalized and intangible be perceived so differently?

  10. Rosalind Downer

    Kafai and Heeter quote Weil “ I have more left handed players than I have female players and I don’t make games for left-handed people. Why should I make games for you?”
    He is refusing to create video games for “minorities”, the message implied that women have rejected the videogame genre. Is this because women see it as a male-based activity and it is not something they would not enjoy, or is it because nobody has created a women’s based videogame that women would enjoy and therefore there hasn’t been an opportunity for women to access the genre? Is it not the fact that the violent and aggressive nature of videogames does not appeal to women? Are women actually interested in being part of this genre? If they are, what will it take for women to buy into this activity?

  11. Alexander Griffiths

    When female gamers complain that there is a lack computer games for young girls, does this not suggest that they are suggesting men and women are un-equal. Why can’t girls partake in boy’s games? Can one not suggest that what young girls seek to identify with is not gender tropes seen within gaming, but games that appeal to both sexes and whose characters gender is undefined i.e. the Nintendo Wii and its games? By influencing the young generation to believe games are gendered and boy’s games are inaccessible to girls are female game-creators not reinforcing gender stereotypes they aim to remove. Within gaming are women game producers segregating the sexes once more, so influencing young girls at a crucial age when game-creators’ should be reinforcing equality, not segregation within gaming, so promoting that girls can actively partake in male games and it not be deemed non normative.

  12. Bryanna Kleber

    “From the start, it was clear that a large segment of the men who worked inside the game industry not to mention the guys who played the games, had no interest in thinking seriously about gender and no interest in broadening and diversifying game content.” What stance do these men actually have? Are they against girls playing? Do they think there is just no need for gender specified games? Or, are they just ambivalent about the matter?

  13. Anna Gallagher

    I don’t know very much about video games, but for the gamers in the class– do you experience identification with your character/avatar more or less strongly than you would with a character in a movie? Is there a sense of a “gaze,” or is this less relevant because you have so much control over the screen?

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