The issue of gender reoccurs in debates about the introduction of computer games into formal learning contexts. There is a fear that girls will be alienated rather than engaged by games in the classroom. There is also concern over sexist imagery, and thus about representational aspects of computer games. In this chapter, particular aspects of these issues are addressed in turn. The authors explore the issue of gender and gendered game preferences, in relation to the cultural framing of the gaming audience. Attention is then directed at the issue of representation, with a consideration of the tensions between representation, meaning, and playability. These issues are considered primarily through perspectives drawn from media studies, and with reference to recent work from the emerging field of computer game studies.
Gaming Culture And Games In The Classroom
Discussions about gender and computer games in learning contexts tend to frame both players and games in particular ways. It might be assumed, for example, that children are the primary audience for games (which is not always the case), and that males play more than females, which is not necessarily the case (Krotoski, 2004).
Scholars and educators have focused on the figure of the young, female (non-) player, in part because of concerns about girls’ lack of engagement with mathematics, the sciences, and technology. There has been a tendency to propose remedial steps, such as the engineering of “games for girls” or further research into girls’ gaming preferences (see various contributions to Cassell & Jenkins, 2000). The implication in some reviews of this research is that insufficient “games for girls” are available—and that “games for girls” and “games for boys” are very different entities (see Gorriz & Medina, 2000; Gurer & Camp, 2002; Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2000). Due to rapid shifts in the commercial games market, even recent research into these areas is dating fast. It is not the case now (if, indeed, it ever was) that commercially available games fall neatly into “male” and “female” camps.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Game Studies: (Digital game studies, computer game studies) an emerging and interdisciplinary field that takes digital games, gaming, and play as a central focus.
Gender: The cultural system of differentiation regulating sexual identity.
Gaming Culture: The social processes shaping how games are made, distributed, sold?and played, including the conventions by which games are interpreted.
Media studies: The study of media forms and media culture.
Representation: The depiction of the game world and its inhabitants; relating to signification.
Legitimation: A process by which an action or a person is socially sanctioned, and made socially acceptable and intelligible.