Wanna observe International Women’s Day and find new perspectives on games? Try reading these critical writings about the representation of women in games.
I thought I’d put together a very quick list of readings on women in games, selected from the posts we’ve featured on the weekly roundups over the past year. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s a nice overview of the kind of things that can be found in our archives, ranging from discussions about how women are portrayed in particular titles, to stories about how women take have used gaming as a site of cultural resistance.
Have fun, and if you’d like a reading list on any topic connected with gaming, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
- Beyond Damsels & Villains in ‘A Tale of Two Rulers’ – FemHype
Kathryn at FemHype reviews a fan comic that offers a radical alternative to the Legend of Zelda canon.
- TransGamer Thoughts – Meeting Fina: Formative Femininity in Skies of Arcadia
Heather Alexandra speaks emotively about subversive femininity and personal fortitude.
- What Does It Mean to Be a Mother: Mothering and Maternal Thinking in Ori and the Blind Forest – Not Your Mama’s Gamer
Bianca Batti and Jynx Boyne consider femininity and queer families of choice in a game that strongly references themes of parenting and kinship.
Perhaps the game’s fluidity in its representations of the ways maternal thinking can be embodied blurs the boundaries between parenting roles and destabilizes the normative, binaristic ways we often conceive of motherhood and fatherhood. And perhaps this blurring, this fluidity, allows Ori and the Blind Forest to reimagine, reframe, and redefine family structures as well–because this fluidity results in the fact that family, in the game, is not simply based on biological ties but on unbounded love
- Falling Upwards: Gravity Rush as guide for the complex intersections of women’s lives
Lillian Everette uses Gravity Rush to explore the confluence of lines, femininity, and ideology.
- Gender, Race, and Robot Dinos in Horizon Zero Dawn – Waypoint
Danielle Riendeau writes her part of Waypoint’s letter series on Horizon Zero Dawn about how surprisingly beautiful and personal the game felt in spite of its robot dinosaurs.
- The Morally Ambiguous Women of Dishonored 2 | remeshed.com
Amanda Jean addresses the positive and negative aspects of portrayals of women in Dishonored 2, arguing in favour of ambiguity and against the victim-villain axis.
Perhaps because of the audience’s inherent alliance with Emily, I noticed how morally ambiguous or dark the other female characters were in comparison. I love moral complexity, especially in women, who are often reviled for sins male characters are praised for, and this game was rife with it.
- Sandstorms, Segregation, And Other Challenges Of Running A Women’s Video Game Convention In Saudi Arabia
Nathan Grayson interviews the founder of a Saudi women-only gaming convention
- The Black Woman as Villain in The Division: Examining the Investment in the White Savior Industrial Complex
Kishonna Gray reports on her activities counting the number of women of color in positions of power and control in video games.
- Professional Fake Nerd Girl — Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers explores emotional labour, authenticity and the politics of sex work shaming in games.
Meanwhile, women also face social pressure to distance themselves from sex work because Madonna and Whore are the only categories available to them. You’re either a Woman In Games or a Booth Babe, and that’s it! Rather than questioning the division, women just hurry to cast themselves in the Madonna category, which is a lot easier to do if you’re only surrounded by other Madonna types.