Tomorrow morning, I will hand in 10,876 words, 16 images and 50 pages about gender and video games as my third year thesis for my Visual culture degree. The last few weeks have been a bit of a slog, particulary with the student paper re-launch comically timed to be the same day as deadline day, but I have finally finished! I am overall very happy with the finished thing. I got a few people to read it and (surprisingly) they found it really interesting and not a sloggish read. My aunt has already stolen a few sentences about the words education/culture (paideia), play (paidia) and children (paides) all having the same root and she is shocked by my arguement that video games are just another way to subordinate women’s use of technology.
If anyone would like to read it, please get in touch. I would love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, here is the synopsis to mull over.
While video games are a relatively new media form, existing for less than 50 years, they are now one of the most popular forms of entertainment and a £6 billion industry worldwide. However, the subliminal messages situated in even the most popular video games such as Super Mario Bros speak of capitalist consumption and female subordination. These ideas create stereotype of video game culture as a male pastime of adolescence, with the home console an object of male desire.
This study charts a patriarchal history of video games and technology, where women use technology as a tool while men use it as a plaything. But when the Nintendo Wii was released in 2006, its revolutionary motion sensor controls and game catalogue was intended to encourage more women and first time gamers to play together socially. Does the Wii have the ability to change the way women interact with video games, or does the console further alienate their understanding of technology?
I use feminist and postmodernist theory as well as theories on social play to approach this subject to formulate my own ideas on how men and women play, supported by my own research and observations of people playing the Wii. I argue that video games are a weapon in a battle of the sexes for gender equality with technology.