Persona 5’s Ann Takamaki is Derailed By The Gender Politics Of Pop Music

Ann Takamaki is the only ‘band member’ who appears to resent the role given to her, and she is clearly cast as ‘the sexy one’. Often, ‘the sexy one’ translates to vacuousness or lack of intelligence. Being sexy and being a bimbo are often the same things when it comes to pop music, with the media of the early ‘00s depicting Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera especially as airheads. Imani Perry writes that “women are often presented as vacuous, doing nothing but swaying around seductively” (2004, p. 137) in music videos, but this is one stereotype that Ann Takamaki breaks. She is ditzy and bratty but has clear agency, demonstrated both through the fact she is a competent party member and through her actions and dialogue as the game progresses. Continue Reading

A Short Stay In Station Square

Sonic Adventure makes me feel like the game is often asking me to suspend my disbelief, putting more effort in convincing me of its magnitude than detailing its nuances. It also seems to be asking me to keep my hands inside the ride most of the time, not letting me set my own pace. The game doesn’t seem to trust that I will enjoy it, so it tries to impress me again and again in order to manage my experience of it. Despite the developers’ intended experience, the actual experience is still enjoyable, even if some of that enjoyment is derived from a fascination with pushing up against its borders and boundaries. Continue Reading

Building Bridges with Call of Duty: Warzone

After dodging their invites for a few weeks, I was playing the Modern Warfare campaign on a Tuesday night when my phone buzzed with a text from Chase: “Wanna Warzone?” I debated whether I should reply or pretend to be asleep, but finally responded with, “Sorry, can’t tonight. Going to bed soon. Next week maybe?” I didn’t have any intention of going to bed soon, but the prospect of playing online with my brothers-in-law wasn’t something I was ready to tackle yet. With that, I settled back into the comforts of the single-player campaign: predictable AI and nobody to watch me lose. A minute or so went by before a notification appeared in the corner of the TV: an invitation from Chase to play Warzone. I had to hand it to him: the kid was persistent. Since it was apparent I couldn’t avoid them any longer, I sent Chase a text that said, “Okay, sure. Let’s play.” Continue Reading

A Letter to the Editor

This commentary is framed as a response to an editorial in the journal Game Studies (of which I’m a member of the review board), and I hope it’s clear that it’s an agonistic one: an incitement to further discourse. A playful bite but a real bite all the same.

Since this commentary was written in December 2019, the renewed attention to sustained anti-Black violence by police and other social institutions in the U.S. and beyond, as well as the increasing prominence of violence and harassment directed at East Asians, has helped to bring public attention to how racism continues to inflect so many aspects of our social, economic, and political lives. As we ask “what can game studies do” in this moment to support meaningful social change, recall that white privilege and prejudice against Black, Indigenous, mixed-race and people of colour (BIMPOC) in game studies was already one context of this exchange, and it’s one we can continue to dismantle together. Continue Reading