Hannah Bales

Hull School of Art and Design

BA (Hons Game Design)

The Open University


Text Seminar

“Digital Games and Gender”

By Jo Bryce, Jason Rutter and Cath Sullivan

Throughout this text seminar there are discussions of gender dynamics within computer gaming and debates about some of the theories that explain how gender makes quite the difference. It reviews how gaming is portrayed in general as an activity and also the effects gender has in the gaming industry. Many of these discussions are very in depth, looking at views and the opinions of others is very interesting and I have my chance to discuss my beliefs on gender dynamics. Gender Identities and gender stereotypes are also mentioned as we gain an understanding of sex and gender differentiation.

I am very fond of the discussion about Biological Essentialism as well as the Nature – Nurture debate as being influenced in the art of games design I feel like this is a topic that needs more exploration and more people need to be a part of this discussion as there is a varied amount of difference in opinions. Korabik, Maccoby and Cockburn have the opinion of believing that we are who we are due to genetics and therefore each gender having its differences due to the biological essentialism. The nature part of the debate is based on sex (biological and physiological characteristics) and the nurture part is about gender (constructed roles, behaviours, attributes and surrounding influences). I believe that nurture plays a large part in this debate as a lot of our personality is based on our surroundings. Our friends influence our movements; however, it may depend on what type of gender group you tend to join. A mixed gender group could vary whereas a male or female group would probably follow one of the many stereotypes e.g. female groups going shopping and male groups playing/watching football. In relation to that previous discussion sociologist Myra Marx Ferree states

‘Gender is continuously being constructed and used to further a variety of individual and group goals’ (Seminar Text).

One of my favourite discussions is the theoretical perspective of the gendering of gaming technologies and virtual gaming spaces, and their role in the creation and manipulation of gendered identities as there are many arguments for and against this cause. If more women join the workplace we don’t necessarily know if anything would change for either the better or worse, however, we have evidence of the female role in the creation of characters by looking at the game Tomb Raider. (See Fig.1)  In 1995 Toby Gard created the character ‘Lara Croft’ and you can see that she wears shorts and a tight top and there was even a modifier to make her naked whereas in 2015 Rhianna Pratchett designed the new Lara Croft and her clothes are changeable yet they all cover most of her body unlike the previous games. Some argue this could be due to this ‘females in the games industry’ theory.

Overall I believe that it is good that more females are interested in games design and I feel like that might make a difference, however it may not even depend on the gender; it may count on natural behaviour and attributes due to either nature or nurture and even the biological essentialism.

Tomb Raider
Fig 1. Lara Croft designs in order of games release.