Earlier this year TAG hosted a 5a7 symposium on gendering games. The event was such a huge success, I’ve been asked to run another 5a7 on the same topic. This time, however, I want to push things just a little bit farther. While it’s important to talk about gendered representations of videogames and gamers, and to think about their repercussions, coming up with real solutions to these problems means talking about power in a much more general (and global) sense: how it’s exercised, how it’s maintained, and how it affects all of our lives in different but related ways. I’m going to argue that the struggle for equality isn’t something that can or should happen only along the lines of gender, because no one is ever just a woman, or just a man. Class, ethnicity, sexuality, religion (or lack thereof), nationality, political alignment, and so on all have their impact, and while these categories produce divergent experiences and levels of privilege, we also need to be able to see and work beyond them.
To get us started, here are some recent examples of what sexism in particular has done for the game industry:
The character design for Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V:
While the abuse may take different forms or appear to happen for different reasons, dehumanization and disempowerment are a common thread. When taken to extremes, these processes can lead to all sorts of horrible things, including torture, physical confinement and segregation, forced relocation, and genocide. While these issues and events often seem far removed from sexist slurs and scantily-clad female avatars, it’s important to see them as part of the same global system, not just because it gives us a better understanding of why sexist practices occur in the first place and how they’ve managed to persist, but also because solidarity across borders of all kinds is crucial if we wish to see things change for the better.
So while the main focus of the discussion may be on gender and games, I also propose that we think about the push for equality as a global initiative that reaches far beyond the confines of gaming cultures or the industry.
What: Discussion on gender, games, and equality.
When: Thursday, September 19, 5-7pm
Where: Hexagram Game Lab, EV 11.425, 1515 St. Catherine W.
Who: Anyone is welcome!