This is What a Feminist (Game) Looks Like.

Paper to be presented at the International Communication Association Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.

As video games become an increasingly mass medium — not intended for niche audiences but deployed with different genres, styles, and platforms — it is an apt time to rethink the role of feminism in gaming. Feminism, as it is deployed in this paper, considers feminism as discursive, exceeding “women” as its subject, per Judith Butler, and is instead about how systems facilitate emancipation (Butler, 1990). In this way, I consider three categories of how we can think about what a feminist game might look like: (1) technological deployment, (2) game mechanics, (3) game narratives. Using Kimberlé  Crenshaw’s (1989) designation of “intersectionality” (ie, the interdependence of systems of oppression), I break down the feminism inherent in games such as Stardew Valley, Life is Strange, and Monument Valley.  This approach of considering the feminism of games that already exist allows us to be forward-looking at the future of the medium as well as the future of the industry.

Shira Chess 

Related Research

Book Chapter: Gaming and behavior change

Abstract: This chapter explores how video games interact with individual characteristics to afford unique opportunities for behavior change. It first considers how video games differ from traditional media, and more […]

Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn
read more
Voice actors and video games in the age of convergence

Abstract: “What type of sword am I wielding?” For most performers in visual media this question is moot, clearly answered by the prop department – but for video game voice […]

Kate Fortmueller
read more