Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

Please read my posts in a chronological order, beginning with the short video.





Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

Anthropy, A 2012, ‘The Problem With Videogames’ in The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form, New York: Seven Stories Press

Beasley, B & Standley, T C 2002, ‘Shorts Vs Skins: Clothing as an indicator of gender role stereotyping in videogames’ in Mass Communication & Society, Vol.5

Buchanan, K 2004, ‘How an educator thinks about computer games’ in On the Horizon

De Beauvoir, S 1949, ‘The Second Sex’, New York: Vintage Books

Dietz, T L 1998, An examination of violence and gender role portrayal in video games: Implications for gender socialisation and aggressive behaviour’ in Sex Roles, Vol.38

Dyer-Witherford, N & de Peuter, G 2009, ‘Introduction: Games in the Age of Empire’ in Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Fox, J & Bailenson, J 2009, ‘Virtual Virgins and Vamps: The Effects of Exposure to Female Characters’ Sexualised Appearance and Gaze in an Immersive Environment’ in Sex Roles, Vol.61

Glaubke, C R., Miller, P., Parker, M., & Espejo, E 2001, ‘Fair play? Violence, race, and gender in videogames’ in Children NOWIllusion, 2006, ‘Rapelay’

Ivory, J 2006, ‘Still a man’s game: Gender representation in online reviews of video games’ in Mass Communication & Society, Vol.9

Kelland, L 2011, ‘Conceptually situating the harm of rape: an analysis of Objectification’ in South African Journal of Philosophy

Martinez, M & Manolovitz, T 2009, ‘Incest, Sexual Violence, and Rape in Videogames’ in Videogame Cultures & the Future of Interactive Entertainment

Means, R 2011, ‘Patriarchy: The Ultimate Conspiracy; Matriarchy: The Ultimate Solution: History-or ‘His-story’ in Griffith Law Review, Vol.20 (3)

Mikula, M 2003, ‘Gender and Videogames: The political valency of Lara Croft’ in Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Vol. 17

Miller, M & Summers, A 2007, ‘Gender difference in videogame characters’ roles, appearances, and attire as portrayed in videogame magazines’ in Sex Roles, Vol.57

Mills, M 1997, ‘Football, Desire and the Social Organisation of Masculinity’ in Social Alternatives, Vol. 16(1)

Mulvey, L  1975, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in Screen, Vol.16 (3)

Eeek! Can this game get any more disturbing?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

A female character being groped at the train station by the game player

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

The pervasive medium of videogames has the potential for ‘virtually conceiving and exploring alternative worlds and social possibilities’ (Dyer-Witherford & de Peuter 2009, 188), so why is dominant gaming culture regressing and defaulting back to tired and narrow representations of gender and sexuality within a heteronormative dynamic? The underlying misogyny reflected in games such as Rapelay demonstrate the ‘creative stagnation’ (Anthropy 2012, 12) within mainstream game production. As digital games create interactive experiences for players ‘rather than representations merely appearing on the screen for observation, female images in virtual spaces are behaviourally responsive’ (Fox & Bailenson 2009, 147), thus the capacity for games to be ideologically radical is certainly possible. It is the very crux of this essay that exemplifies why contemporary videogames have not yet ‘reached cultural maturity’ (Anthropy 2012, 4) nor resemble a radical text, since the highly misogynist and homogenous content does not reflect contemporary gender relations, in which women exist within a multitude of identities and spaces within private and public spheres.


Female tropes of the gaming realm

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

Fundamentally, a female character can only exist within a sexualised heteronormative realm of corporeality, ‘her sexuality is a defining feature, relegating her status to that of an object to be gazed upon’ (Mikula 2003). A sustained critical discourse within the context of game culture is the observation that video game content and dialogue exists within a ‘masculine domain’ (Dyer-Witherford & de Peuter 2009, 181). Within this masculinist domain, women exist as ‘toys for the boys’ and are ‘invisible other than as “virgins and vixens”’ (Buchanan 2000). This is particularly evident within the female characterisation of Manaka, Yuuko, and Aoi within Rapelay, as all characters are dressed in either revealing clothing, have hyper feminised bodies (large breasts) and their underwear is made visible intermittently throughout the game. In Dietz (1998) content analysis of gender stereotypes within popular videogames, his research demonstrated that there were four dominant tropes of female characterisation; sexy object, victim (damsel in distress), feminine subject, and hero. The female characters within Rapelay fall into both the ‘sexy object’ and ‘victim’ categories since they respond with distress, fear, as well as arousal when they are raped by the player. The narrative structure in which the female rape victim can eventually ‘enjoy’ her abuse is in no way progressive; it endorses victim blaming within rape culture as well as blurring the conceptual boundaries between forcible rape and consent.

Manaka, Yuuko, and Aoi

Rape culture in controversial game ‘Rapelay’

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

The portrayal of womens in videogames cannot be regarded as radical, when they adhere to out-dated notions of femininity and associated themes of sexual subordination and violence. The Japanese game Rapelay, despite being released in 2006 garnered immense controversy in 2009 when it was relisted online at Amazon (Martinez & Manolovitz 2009, 7). The game can easily be defined as a ‘rape simulator’ (Martinez & Manolovitz 2009, 7) as the plot revolves around the stalking and rape of a mother and her two daughters in various locations such as a train station, public bathroom and one of the daughter’s bedrooms. Horrific features include multiple player modes to facilitate gang rape, forced abortion if rape victims fall pregnant, and sex slavery of the three victims. In one sequence of the game, the player rapes the Yuuko, the mother of the family and then proceeds to take photographs of her semen-covered body. The above examples of gameplay modes illustrate the deviant and horrific themes present in Rapelay, but also the demarcated gendered roles of the male rapist and female victim within a rigid binary of sexual abuse. Through the act of rape, female characters are subjected to the ‘male gaze’ (Mulvey 1975, 62) and the hegemonic binaries between the ‘active/male and passive/female’ (Mulvey 1975, 62) are reified. The game blatantly endorses out-dated  and limited definitions of gender constitution, reverting to the hegemonic notion that ‘to be masculine-is to be active, strong, independent, rational…and to excel at being a woman-to be feminine-is to be passive, weak, dependent and emotional’ (Kelland 2011, 173). Furthermore, there is an underlying justification of rape that is reminiscent of discourse concerning male corporeality and agency that is ‘inherently’ uncontrollable. The repeated rape of women and young girls within the game perpetuate a corporeal ‘imaginary’ of the hegemonic male body as an ’instrument to be used to achieve a particular end’ (Mills 1997, 11).  Within this limited and destructive sex/gender paradigm, ‘how is a woman, a trans person, or any rational individual expected to feel safe enough to participate in such a community?’ (Anthropy 2012, 16) in addition to the media form evolving into revolutionary text in which a range of human experiences is drawn upon and explored. The discourse within a game has the propensity to challenge and ‘subvert established norms’ (Dyer-Witherford & de Peuter 2009, 181), yet Rapelay perpetuates rape culture that is situated within an ideological frame of patriarchy, of which is heavily reliant on a limited binary of gender identification in which women are subordinated; ‘it is a system that both completely lacks and completely fears the feminine’ (Means 2011).


Can videogames be defined as regressive as opposed to radical?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by nbaines

In Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, Anna Anthropy speaks to the artistic and revolutionary capacity of videogames and conversely, how mainstream videogames offer ‘such a narrow view of what it is to be human’ (2012, 3). Anthropy identifies the gendered tropes of gaming narrative, stating that ‘Mostly, videogames are about men shooting men in the face’ and discusses the limiting binary in which female characters reside; ‘games that involve a woman protagonist in a role other than slaughterer put her in a role of servitude: waiting tables at a diner (or a dress shop, a pet shop, a wedding party)’ (2012, 3). Anthropy proposes radical reformation of videogame content as contingent on a decentralization of game creation, in order to dissolve the existing insular production of games, and thus expand thematic, aesthetic and design possibilities (2012). In addition to female characters existing in a limited set of sexualised roles, I also argue that Simone de Beauvoir’s polemic theory of the feminine as ‘Other’ is relevant within the context of gaming, demonstrating the lack of radicalism within contemporary videogame culture. In the seminal text The Second Sex (1949), de Beauvoir noted that women have historically appeared ‘essentially to the male as a sexual being’ and that a woman is ‘defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her…she is the Other’. The very fact that women are ‘vastly underrepresented in popular videogames and are often hyper sexualised when depicted’ (Beasley and Standley 2002; Dietz 1998; Glaubke et al. 2001; Ivory 2006; Miller and Summers 2007) exemplifies my contention that this media form has not yet evolved into a radical text, due to its inherent ‘othering’ of women into subordinated positions of sexual service to the male counterpart. In no way can videogames be regarded as a radical or progressive text if they continue to perpetuate out-dated stereotypes of women, and damaging masculinist discourse promoting such harmful attitudes towards women. The Japanese game Rapelay represents misogynist themes of sexual violence against women, and is the crudest example of rape culture and oppressive representations of women within videogame culture.