February 11th, 2008

The cybersex addiction Click Me, promised and promptly not delivered last week, is now up at the Voice–honest and truly. Is cybersex addiction an actual risk, or just a bunch of sensationalist silliness? See for yourself!

In Bonnie news this week, I put together a reading list of books on the topic of sex & gender in games. I mentioned last week that I’m thinking of writing a book of my own on the subject–a sort of “games studies meet sex & gender studies” monograph. In the meantime, I figured I’d share my research of what’s already out there with you. If you can think any more titles to add to the list, speak up!

Brenda Brathwaite’s Sex in Video Games
-Justine Cassel and Henry Jenkins’ From Barbie to Mortal Combat: Gender and Computer Games
Mia Consalvo’s “Hot Dates and Fairy-tale Romance: Studying Sexuality in Video Games” (from The Video Game Theory Reader)
Sheri Graner Ray’s Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding the Market
Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky’s Lara Croft: Cyber Heroine

Not surprisingly, the list is shorter than it was for cybersex texts. All the more reason why yours truly needs to get off her butt and write this book!

Tags: books, Click Me

6 Responses to “The Sex & Gender in Video Games Reading List”

  1. Sara Says:

    I just wrote my undergrad thesis on gender and video games, so I have read a few of the books on your list. I loved From Barbie to Mortal Combat, and I didn’t like Gender Inclusive Game Design. I would almost go so far as to say that I hated it. I understand that Sheri Graner Ray is fighting the good fight as an insider in the industry, but her examples are far from academic (which is ok, as long as they aren’t then generalized to the entire population, which she does), her distinctions between male and female sound like she thinks men and women come from two different planets, and her suggestions for making games more “feminine” just sounds like making games more boring. On top of all of that, she ignores the population of girls who already play “boys” games. There do need to be some changes in the representations of gender in video games (please can I play a female Master Chief?), but I think Ray is going about it all wrong.

  2. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I’ve seen Ray speak before, and I can see where your frustration comes from. I’d love to hear more about your sources–since you just wrote an entire thesis on the topic! Were there other books you found helpful? Were there topics you *wish* people had covered? What area of study was your thesis technically in? Game studies?

  3. Sara Says:

    My thesis was in Sociology (there is no undergrad program in game studies *sigh*), and I studied how women form identity in male-typical games, specifically World of Warcraft. I read a lot of books that looked at games in general, and most had a portion of the book dedicated to gender. I would add T.L. Taylor’s Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture to the list, as she dedicates an entire chapter to gender. Also helpful was Women and Everyday Uses of the Internet: Agency and Identity, edited by Mia Consalvo and Susanna Paasonen and Instant Identity: Adolescent Girls and the World of Instant Messaging by Shalya Thiel Stern. Nick Yee also does some interesting work with The Daedalus Project (www.nickyee.com/daedalus).

    The main thing I wished people had covered is the experiences of girls and women who play games coded by, designed for, and marketed to boys and men. The main debate in the “girls’ gaming” movement is to either make separate games for girls (most of which reinforce gender norms, and the majority of which are crappy games), or to be the super-great gaming girl in the boys’ games (which doesn’t challenge the commonly sexist images in those games). I wish that somebody would write an article showing that women *do* like to play a lot of the games out there, and some of us would like them even more if we were able to play female characters, especially if those female characters didn’t run around half nude.

  4. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Thanks very much for the reading tips, Sara! Nick’s work and T.L. Taylor’s book I’m definitely familiar with–but Instant Identity I hadn’t heard of (I should have, since Mia is a fellow TN-er :), but it sounds really useful.

    As for wanting to hear from girls who play but want recognition, I think articles like that do exist–if not books. You might try checking out “girl gaming” sites like Women Gamers or Killer Betties or even Game Girl Advance. It’s certainly a sentiment I’ve heard expressed before. Now I just have to remember where :).

  5. Cybersexy Says:

    Bonnie,
    Regarding your article, it seems Fred’s problems were psychological to begin with. He used cybersex as a means of avoiding his insecurities with women.

    Now if you can find someone who had a healthy sex life and THEN became addicted to cybersex, you’d have something!

  6. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Good point, Cybersexy. I think the entire issue with “cybersex addiction” is that it makes cybersex out to be evil on its own, when it fact (as you point) it’s only problematic when coupled with other issues.

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