Shira Chess encourages more people to express unique perspectives in the gaming community.
Shira Chess authors “Play Like A Feminist” to spotlight more voices in video game community
Shira Chess, associate professor of entertainment and media studies, has studied video games for two decades and has observed many changes in the gaming industry. She knows how powerful the medium is and where it can grow to better serve society. In her new book, “Play Like A Feminist,” Chess encourages an expansive conversation about video games that includes new people and fresh perspective.
“I want to see more people engaged in the video game industry because the more voices we get, the better this medium will continue to develop,” Chess said.
While surveys and questioning methods can vary, Chess says about half of video game consumers identify as female. She says feminism and video games need each other because human equality must include leisure among its weighty societal issues.
“It is time for a feminism that embraces play, “Chess said. “Video games have so much potential to rewrite leisure practices for those who don’t get enough playtime and to explore issues like agency and identity.”
Chess says more voices in the video game industry only helps the development of game quality because new viewpoints can be expressed.
“Video games are still emerging as a popular culture medium,” Chess said. “The more people that play, the less video games get stuck in the same patterns and ruts.”
The origins of “Play Like A Feminist” were rooted in conversations Chess had following the publishing of her 2017 book: “Ready Player Two: Gamers and Designed Identity.” Readers played games recommended in that book and reported back with pleasant surprise that video games could be works of art and literary experiences.
Chess realized that the discussions in academic circles surrounding video games were not reaching a wider public. She has found community through video games and knows the benefit of that shared experience, especially in a year where many shared experiences have been stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chess’ book specifically proposes the idea of “gaming circles” – small groups of game players that can meet up regularly, like a book club. She argues that these communities are a way to foster novice gamers with recommendations, feedback and banter on communal experiences.
“Adding more play and games into our lives – even when it’s difficult to do with the difficulties of 2020 and beyond – can help us all think differently and see the world in new ways.”
To learn more about the book, see a list of Chess’ recommended games and more tips on building community through video games, visit her website at: www.playlikeafeminist.com