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Gender in Games

April 1, 2013

Offensive representations of gender in videogames have been a staple of the medium since the 1980’s. Some have argued that this political incorrectness is a feature of the fantasy realm of games, one that should be celebrated. The argument is often made that those who wish to avoid these stereotypes should steer clear of such games, however, such representations are not restricted to the game world themselves but are also present in the marketing of these games, in the real world.

Media critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian who has been exploring representations of gender across cinema and television has recently turned her attention to games. Although finding many problems with gender representations and violence in games, Sarkeesian’s position is hardly radical. In highlighting the many issues, she announces her feminist reading and acknowledges that games function at multiple levels, not all of them “bad”. Her work operates a tertiary level gender studies and her revelations will come little surprise to anyone versed in contemporary humanities. Nonetheless, there has been and continues a strong backlash against her work. This is unfortunate as Sarkeesian provides a sober and intelligent perspective on games literacy, one that has been alarmingly absent for far too long.

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