Not Your Mother’s Video Game

Chess, S.. (2016). Not Your Mother’s Video Game: The Role of Motherhood in Video Game Advertising. In A. Davisson and P. Booth (eds.) Media ethics: changing ethics in a digital age. Bloomsbury Press.

Abstract: This essay analyzes the complicated role of motherhood in television commercials for video games, spanning several decades. Video game advertising, in particular, often features mother characters utilizing a kind of double-voicedness. On the one hand, they need to advertise in such a way that the primary target audience for the commercials – young males – are interested in purchasing a game that is decidedly different from the kinds of casual games that they perceive their mothers to be playing. On the other hand, as the primary purchasers in a household, the commercials need to make an appeal to women audiences to buy the games for their families. Ultimately, I argue, the role of the mother is necessarily “othered” by the gaming industry. She is necessary to the process of purchasing video games, yet always must be represented as a non-player.

Shira Chess