Book Review: Video Games as Culture

Considering the Role and Importance of Video Games in Contemporary Society

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I want to emphasize that this is not a book in which the reader will find untouchable truths: rather, it is a tool that explains, in a very clear and understandable way, some of the debates and discussions that are still open around video games and their communities. Hence, I would not dare to say that this is going to be a definitive or complete book, but the beginning of future works and new publications that will take as their starting point some of the questions that Muriel and Crawford have synthesized and summarized so well in it. Continue Reading

Sailing the Queer Seas

Final Fantasy V, Faris, and Gender

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Yet it is clear that Faris thinks of themself as masculine, or at least proudly embodies the traits of stereotypical masculinity. Their level of courage, stubbornness, and self-confidence is often only found in male protagonists (see, for example, shōnen protagonists or superheros, who tend to exemplify exaggerated masculisms). They are also brash, rough-spoken, and a bit domineering. They are what you would expect of a pirate captain and everything you wouldn’t expect of a princess. Continue Reading

“A glimpse of the possibilities”

A Review of Queerness in Play

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It seems overly reductive to claim that any field is “characterized” by certain traits, but sometimes I’m tempted to resort to this tactic anyway after excellent first impressions of new work. So, by way of compromise I’ll say it this way: new scholarship in game studies is often influenced by the ways in which game studies itself is a developing and interdisciplinary field. And, in a strong recent example of this, the 2018 anthology Queerness in Play is at once a realization, a celebration, and a call for more work drawing from the intersections between queer studies and game studies. Contributors do a commendable job of keeping both the theory and the games they discuss accessible, and I imagine that this text will prove valuable to scholars and students alike. (I know I was taking notes for two of my other projects as I read!) Continue Reading

Mountains of Trash

An Essay on Videogames, Recycling, and Digital Culture

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In Getting Over It, as the player ascends and almost inevitably suffers the occasional dramatic plummet down to the foot of the mountain, Foddy delivers a witty voice-over monologue about a range of subjects like perseverance in the face of failure, the underestimated value of frustration, and the trash-like nature of digital culture. “When everything around us is cultural trash,” he says, “trash becomes the new medium, the lingua franca of the digital age.” Continue Reading

We’re Gonna Crash!

The Apocalyptic Surrealism of Cruis’n USA

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For all of the romantic language that’s been attached to it, driving is seldom the joyous experience that racing games try to capture. Automobiles are powerful and dangerous, so drivers must constantly be vigilant. The default mode of driving is a mix of anxiety and boredom. Vehicles isolate motorists from their real surroundings, which are abstracted by the new, powerful steel exoskeleton the driver wields. The body is now a zooming husk. Continue Reading

“Is that your only ambition for me? To follow?”

Gender in A Plague Tale: Innocence

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The universality of armed male threats throughout the game is perhaps one of the most visible signifiers of war and violence as masculine spheres within the game. This is reflective of a traditional “masculinisation of war” (Herbst, 2006); whereby warfare and violence are seen as masculine domains. This corresponds to a simultaneous and traditional association between victimhood and femininity, an association that has hindered women’s participation and framed their experiences of warfare. Continue Reading

Planting the Seeds for Positive Queer Representation

My Personal Experience with the Harvest Moon Series and Stardew Valley

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In 2012, however, with the release of Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, players were afforded the opportunity for the first time to customize their character’s appearance in ways that defy stereotypical gender roles. For example, though players are forced to choose their sex at the beginning of the game (thankfully, they didn’t have to purchase individual versions of the game), they can gender bend their character to the point where players can create ostensibly queer relationships. However, other characters continuously refer to the player with the pronouns that have been historically linked to their biological sex, which breaks the illusion of queer content. Continue Reading