Gender in Game Design -- Cultural Critique
Tuesday March 7, 2005



Gender in Game Design

Inventory of experiences
gender or personality
gender part of personality

Why do we pay attention to gender in game design?
- because of the obvious gender difference in computer play
-a s a reminder to challenge ourselves to do things differently

Is this already a form of cultural critique?


Cultural Critique; purposes:

- to identify and “make strange” cultural values, norms, and stereotypes, in order to
- to question the effects and products of such cultural values, norms, and stereotypes;
- to alter existing practices that reiterate, reify, and reproduce such values, norms, and stereotypes
- to acknowledge and enable alternate modes of being







Play (Huizinga, Homo Ludens):

- socialization/enculturation: becoming part of a cultural space
- reinforcing cultural norms and values
- irony, boundary testing/transgression: a form or means of cultural commentary

Play as Cultural Critique

“Play with purpose” (see quote below)

“Create opportunities for meaningful play”
Rules of Play

“Play responsibly” (see quote below)



“Am I alone in thinking it's kind of cool the way some games sort of sat[i]rize or present a game world which has enough connection with things recognizable in the physical non game world that it can also serve as a critique of mass culture, personal disposition, aesthetics, style, and human behavior? I'm not just talking a story here. I'm talking something, whatever it may be, that resonates and stimulates ones thoughts, emotions, perhaps expresses poetic truth-- it can be interactive details, sense of geometry and architecture, characters, ambiance enhancing details, expertly crafted gameplay which seems somehow organic, a unique perspective on events, cool themes, or even a cut scene; It's in the eye of the beholder. Games have to improve in this regard. There's so much effort and technical excellence involved in the best games that it's a shame in other ways the level of artistry and expression is not equal or relevant to the level of technical excellence.”

"Game-inspired art works represent a vitally important emerging form that explores new modes of visualizing space and time, and from these investigations emerge new narrative models for interaction, new formats for cultural and political critique, and alternative interfaces for game play. John Klima?s multimedia installation, Go Fish, is a novel first-person shooter game with real-time consequences ?the death of a goldfish.[9] Housed in a retro-styled arcade cabinet, the game asks participants take moral responsibility for their trigger-happy behaviors. […]games have collided with the world of art to forge a new genre of art games. As artists, we have much more to explore in the game format in terms of both spatial innovations and also game play. It is our responsibility as artists to ?break out? our software design abilities to continue to refine, via formal structure and cultural commentary, the realm of game architecture to create new interactive structures for expression."






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