Un Lieu for 2

Many people can relate to videogames, at first glance, through their characters, plot or setting (spaces). For a particular reason some type of games seem to be more in production and more successful than others in the industrial mainstream market. Some say they are simply better than the least successful types, others say that the industrial mainstream videogame market only appeals to a certain group of individuals. In the article “A Game of One’s Own: Towards a New Gendered Poetics of Digital Space.”, Jacquelyn Ford Morie explores the idea that game spaces are gendered and that most popular industrial mainstream market video games are made to be alluring to men.

She claims that spaces that thematically “revolve around narratives of warfare, anti-terrorism, invading aliens, zombies, science fiction, combat with robots, etc.” tend to attract males rather than both sexes. The warfare and anti-terrorism themed videogames reminds me of the Call of Duty series. The online experience is not a very friendly one, especially if you are considered as what Simone De Beauvoir calls “the other”. Women and people of color are not very welcomed, they might face several versions of verbal harassment. Even people that have different accents can become a target.

Even when female characters became protagonists, the games themselves were made to satisfy the dominant male players. Jacquelyn Ford Morie explains that “on the surface, the concept could be epitomized by Lara Croft, the busty adventuress who takes on male game space in hot pants, a tight tank top and a holster. Early on, Lara’s creators insisted that centering on a strong female character in Tomb Raider (Core Design, 1996) would translate into strong appeal to women and girls. But this noble intention did not materialize: Lara Croft, like many other female game characters, is a male fantasy of Barbie kicking butt.” The idea that “Barbie kicking butt” is to give a frail-looking and lovable characters (usually females) an attitude, weapons, and skills to defend herself against whatever she is put against. Basically setting her in an action movie, but not as the helpless princess. Several examples of this can be found in games such as World of Warcraft, Diablo series, most fighting games, Mirror’s Edge, and Pokemon.

The feminine concept of space focuses on the interaction of the space with the character rather than the happening of the space. Morie clarifies that “in these spaces, female characters figure predominately, if not solely, and the ways in which they interact with the space, as well as the character of the spaces themselves, can be looked at as models for a more feminine conception of space.” In the game Gone Home, the protagonist is a student that returns home from school and instead of finding her family at home, she finds an empty house. The main directive of the game is to find out what happened to the protagonist’s family and only the interactions with the space can help the player move the narrative forward, just like a detective would. Basically feminine concepts of space is in fact having some sort of investigative game.

Sean Humphrey

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