Review of Gaming Sexism: Gender and Identity in the Era of Casual Video Games by Amanda Cote

The book addresses the structures and systems around games and how they shape experiences for players. Cote conducted a series of interviews with players to generate insights about their play and interactions that are woven throughout most of the book, but the data from those interviews are beautifully packaged alongside a deep understanding of video games and game studies. Cote is exceptionally well-read, fluidly referencing core work in game studies by the likes of Shira Chess, Mia Consalvo, Kishonna Gray, Sal Humphreys, Jen Jenson, and Suzanne de Castell, Aphra Kerr, Carly Kocurek, Lisa Nakamura, Anastasia Salter, Adrienne Shaw, T.L. Taylor and plenty of others. Continue Reading

Making Good Trouble: A Review of Amanda Phillip’s Gamer Trouble: Feminist Confrontations in Digital Culture

Books and games have been an invaluable source of consolation during my city’s lockdown restrictions. Reading Gamer Trouble: Feminist Confrontations in Digital Culture during this “unprecedented time” was no exception. Gamer Trouble explores videogame texts and events through an intersectional feminist lens, unpacking the 2010 Dickwolves controversy and offering fresh readings of Fallout 3 (Bethesda, 2008), Portal (Valve Corporation, 2007) Bayonetta (Platinum Games, 2009), and Mass Effect (Bioware, 2007-2012). Continue Reading

Felicity, Framing, Feedback Loops: Historicizing Videogame Performance in Darshana Jayemanne’s Performativity in Art, Literature, and Videogames

Darshana Jayemanne’s Performativity in Art, Literature, and Videogames is an essential contribution to this ongoing animation. The book has much to give: a generative, comparative methodology; a vibrant and extensive lexicon for describing the qualities of videogames; many vivid case studies. Performance is its vital pivot point. Although the field of game studies has tended to treat performance as “either an actualization of abstract rules or a voluntarist creation of meaning by the player in each actual play decision” (p. 14), Jayemanne emphasizes that it is not so easily sequestered or reduced. Continue Reading

The Queer Games we Play

Review of Video Games Have Always Been Queer

Ruberg argues that “[q]ueerness and video games share a common ethos: the longing to imagine alternative ways of being and to make space within structures of power for resistance through play” (1). When I explained the argument to a professor, he said, “Oh, I didn’t know that could be queer.” When explained as Ruberg does, any game can be queer, and that’s exactly the point. Queerness is an embodiment of playfulness, one that allows us “to resist structures of power, or partake in alternative forms of pleasure, or inhabit embodied and affective experiences of difference” (15). But this kind of intervention and explanation is deeply needed at this point in game studies scholarship, as we can see more acceptance of queer game studies in multiple venues–the publication of this book being one of them. Continue Reading

A Multimodal Approach to Video Games and the Player

A book review

In A Multimodal Approach to Video Games and the Player Experience, Weimin Toh describes the process that led him to develop a new, exhaustive model of the relationship between storyline and gameplay in video games. He synthesizes many of the theories of narrative game studies’ through the lenses of the multimodal approach, basing them heavily on the idea of ludonarrative dissonance as introduced by Clint Hocking in 2007. Grounding his research in the previous works and acknowledging the controversies regarding the concept, Weimin Toh does not concentrate solely on ludonarrative dissonance but rather regards it as one of a few types of relationships between two game modes, next to ludonarrative resonance and ludonarrative (ir)relevance. Continue Reading

Book Review: Video Games as Culture

Considering the Role and Importance of Video Games in Contemporary Society

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

“A glimpse of the possibilities”

A Review of Queerness in Play

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