Double Take

This may be a big call….but I think playing sport related videogames can lead to an improvement in ones physical game.

The idea of videogaming as being educational or having a positive effect on the physical games seems counterintuitive. This is somewhat due to public discourse surrounding videogames, which tends to focus on the negatives of videogaming – such as teen violence, obesity and addiciton.

However, according to a survey conducted by FIFA of more than 10,000 registered gamers, 58% of players believe that virtual skills learned playing EA SPORTS’ FIFA 12 on PS3™ has improved their real-life skills.

Playing videogames requires strategy, mental focus, skill and technique…and as my boyfriend would argue, playing Rugby Challenge before playing the physical game improves pre-game stress, mental preparation and performance. The graphics, images and player representation in video games now come close to matching real life. Playing videogames also claims to improve motor skills, fight off depression and encourage healthy competition.

A remarkable 43% of the gamers surveyed claimed that playing video games helped in better understanding of soccer tactics and 95% of players who could pick themselves as an avatar, did. I would suggest that playing video games is a learning experience to platform the different players on each team, a greater insight of the teams philosophies, the highlighted skill of each player, the position that athletes normally play and much more. It is also helpful when playing the actual physical game by better understanding how to move around the pitch and knowing how to react when one has possession of the ball.

Sport video games are specifically designed to mimic the actual settings, players, strategies and other conditions that athletes may encounter on the field. There is an undoubted nexus between virtual and physical sport and the opportunities for learning remains untapped.

The nature of videogaming allows players to experience immediate and often unpredictable consequences of their actions. Because videogames have a wide range of narrative possibilities, this allows the gamer to understand a wide variety of mental possibilities.

I would suggest that as technology improves and as more resources are injected into the video game industry, particularly into the sporting genre, people are going to be able to participate in new worlds, which may have a positive impact for gamers.

So think twice, before you contemplate having an argument because he wants to get one more game in before dinner, and learn from her mistake….maybe he was destined to be the next Dan Carter.

In its early years the internet was heralded as a kind of utopian zone, un affected by rules of land, users of the world wide web were free to ‘surf’ through the internet at their leisure. These days the internet is an increasingly policed zone, despite hopes that this space would be somewhere one could inhabit many identities, or even move anonymously , most websites, application and networks these days require users to front as the selves they live in the physical realm.
In his article ‘  the death of the cyber flaneur’ Evgeny Morozov posits,

‘Transcending its original playful identity, it’s no longer a place for strolling — it’s a place for getting things done. Hardly anyone “surfs” the Web anymore. The popularity of the “app paradigm,” whereby dedicated mobile and tablet applications help us accomplish what we want without ever opening the browser or visiting the rest of the Internet, has made cyberflânerie less likely. That so much of today’s online activity revolves around shopping — for virtual presents, for virtual pets, for virtual presents for virtual pets — hasn’t helped either. Strolling through Groupon isn’t as much fun as strolling through an arcade, online or off’

Thinking of my own habits, this couldn’t be more apt. My navigations through cyber space are for the most part about getting things done, I’m always looking for new ways to make my online experience more efficient and as a consequence there is only a handful of sites I regularly visit, ignoring many thousands of possibly interesting nooks of content.
MMORG’s offer a moment of play that is perhaps some what like our early hopes for the internet. Popular consensus reigns that video games are a waste of time, that young people wander aimlessly in these spaces not up to anything that is useful for them or the wider community. However I would argue that the play in these world could be considered incredibly dynamic. In his article ‘ world of warcraft; service or space’ Adam Ruch works through the contradictions of WoW’s presence as both a service to it’s users and an online space where users have their own agency and create their own experiences. The heavy iron fist with which WoW seems to claim ownership of each users experiences within a game is as odds with the aforementioned idea of useful play in MMORG’s. Wow policy of access to user chat transcripts could BE assumed as data hoarding with the hope of  narrowing down users identities to eventually sell demographic based ad revenue. Games such as Minecraft and Simcity which cannot be ‘won’ are also noteworthy in this case, places such as these allow for creative play and discovery seemingly despairing from other parts of the internet. 

naming it – gaming addiction

I’m the unfortunate middle child in my family who was dubbed a ‘nerd’ because I used to read encyclopaedias. But I can’t help it – I’ve enjoyed reading since I was a kid. I also enjoy watching art films, eating food and playing video games. But apparently my enjoyment of video games borders on obsession, even ‘addiction’, as my family sometimes like to point out.

I could spend hours watching a whole bunch of movies, and my family won’t question that  because I’m a film student. Yet when I spend the same amount of time playing video games, they asks ‘why do you play so many video games’. I tell them that they’re addictive and they just laugh at me.

I feel that gaming is a legit addiction – after hearing those stories about people who have killed themselves over World of Warcraft, even Skyrim, it’s pretty awful. Or the kids in China who are sent to military style camps,one in particular was in a 24-hour internet cafe playing Starcraft – his parents found him three days later. I think when it comes to the point where it takes over your life, whe you forget the negative consequences in order to fufill something right then and there, then yeah I’d say it was addiction.

But why is okay to be ‘addicted’ to reading, or writing, or swimming – all these other past times have a legitimacy to performing them that video games don’t have? Why is that? It’s not fair. Perhaps it has something to do with being this ‘young medium’, people automatically equate stupidity with youth, and don’t you have to be both in order to be young and wise. Or that it’s still attributed to child’s play? Or maybe the most ardent critics of gaming have never played them before – so they don’t understand what they don’t know.

This ‘misunderstanding’ has led to a dismissal of gaming addiction as a illegitimate addiction. Does it have to take something more drastic than suicides and muscular dystrophy for people to wake up to it? If a psychologist is able to get an easier sentence in court for his teenage patient by having him plead a case of ‘affluenza’, why is the proper treatment of gaming addiction not easily available for kids who could possibly cause harm to themselves and others?

I am not your heroine.

So I was browsing the class blog when I saw this picture.
Image
I had another post planned, but I got mad. I got really mad. I got so mad I wiped out everything I had written previously and started this post instead. (N.B. I thought the post itself was very good, and agreed with many of the OP’s points.) Girl monsters are a rarity, in all forms of media, but especially in video games. Girls and women who are beyond humanity, who exist for their own purpose, girls who are not defined by their relationship to others. Heroes exist to save the day, villains exist to antagonize the hero, and monsters exist as a force of pure evil. A villainous woman is not the same as a girl monster. 
 
As a female, who has hovered between girl and woman for the last half a decade, monster girls are something I crave seeing. I am hard pushed to recall any female dungeon bosses, with the possible exception of the Gohma, a recurring low level boss in the Zelda franchise. But even they are primarily defined by their ability to spawn larvae, as mothers of monsters and not monsters in and of themselves. Male bosses in the series summon the low level support enemies with various powers or allegiances. Not through reproduction. In fact, female monsters in a wider context tend to become mothers of half human hybrids. Again, they become defined by their ability to bear progeny. This is a problem in the way it defines women, wombed and fertile, and as sexually attractive to males.
 
Games where you create your own character often result in bizarre sexual dimorphism in the “monstrous” races, especially in one of the first MMORPGs I tried to get into, World of Warcraft. Female character designs varied in terms of skin colour and appendages. I ultimately lost interest because my character was so much like the other females. The female character designs were minimally muscled, exaggeratedly hourglass and beautifully postured, even when that contradicted the male race equivalent body. A girl monster is a thing that promotes female autonomy, she says her body doesn’t need to fit into the acceptable spectrum and her motives are hers not to explain as much as she wants.
 
It’s not enough to have heroines. You can keep giving us female protagonists in tank tops and combat boots and that is great, but it’s not enough. It promotes the idea that a certain kind of femininity is right, namely the type that appeals to a male viewership. Lara Croft, Princess Peach, even the much acclaimed Chell follow the model of women as a package deal; long haired, able bodied, slender but strong. It’s not enough to have female villains either, because then you are defining women by their relationships to heroes. That contradicts the idea that they are people in their own right (or unpeople as the case may be).
 
Girl monsters, however, exist as independent entities. They roam the forests and fields doing whatever it is NPCs do in their free time. And when they are approached with a weapon, they fight back. Girl monsters need to exist as a means of empowering the female ego. An orcish, black tongued, half rotted, female is a way of saying not only do I dare exist outside your conventional standards for women, but I don’t care that you think that it is disgusting. That character exists for me, the creator, and not you, the audience. It’s a power fantasy, in the same way that men are given options for green-skinned dragon-men with biceps the thickness of their necks, a reptilian female without mammalian breasts and with the ability to forge steel with their breath tells women that their fantasies are legitimate even when they do not involve children or mates. But we couldn’t have that.
 
The lack of representation of women in video games is symptomatic of a wider issue involving acceptable standards for women. The regulation of female bodies and behaviours should be concerning, and it should concern you if you thought at any point while reading this “why doesn’t she pick the male option then.” If you did, you missed the point. Women are not a minority. Evil women exist. Women who enjoy chaos and bloodshed exist. Women exist in as many casts and creeds as men and yet are washed over in limited character design and are expected to want to look a certain way. My problem is not the fact I am a woman, it’s being told how I should be a woman.

The last week of lectures got me wondering if there were any games AT ALL that present a positive female identity. As I mentioned previously, I’ve never really played games myself, but I have spent a lot of time watching others play games and it came to me that ‘Portal’, a game I have observed being played is perhaps an example of female identities being presented in a positive light.

From the outset, ‘ FPS’ or ‘first person shooter’ games link any player to a masculine identity if you consider that a gun is typically regarded as a phallic symbol of masculine agency, as a tool this symbol is used to gain power. To enter into a game as a first person shooter is to insert oneself into an environment where the male perspective is trump, regardless of of the characters gender.

Furthermore, it seems that the majority of fps games only offer males as character types. On the unlikely occasion the option of a female character is given she is very possibly going to be a hyper sexualised product of the male gaze. It is interesting to note that playable female characters are more likely to appear in third-person games.
So, in the context of games today, Portal seems very subversive. First of all, The main character,Chell, is not a scantily clad dolly, but is dressed in a plain orange jumpsuit. Like many fps games, there are not many moments for the player to gaze upon themselves, however, in Portal the opportunities are so few that it is possible a player could go some time without realising that their protagonist is female. The fact that the lead is female is not made a central part of the games narrative, as oppose to most other fps where brute masculinity is often loudly etched . The most significantly subversive element of this game however is the tool in question; Chells weapon shoots portals rather than bullets. One could take this image as a subversion of the phallic symbolism of guns and bullets in exchange for round, ovarian forms that serve as metaphorical birth passages through which Chell moves from one challenge to another in the game. I don’t know whether or not ‘Portal’ is a particularly popular game but a brief search of it production company ‘ Valve’ showed that it was it was anomaly amongst a clutch of male lead FPS games. 

 

OMG, I’m a Gamer Girl.

I am a girl gamer.
I am a gamer girl.
Actually, no. I am a girl that plays games.

I cannot make sense of the sexual stereotype for women in the gaming community. For definition purposes, I am just a girl who likes to play games. Most people of the female gender do not consider themselves to be ‘gamers’ even though they thoroughly enjoy casual games, such as Angry BirdsFarmvilleThe Sims or Bejeweled. Although statistics illustrate that the popularity of girl games is increasing world-wide, many girl gamers remain closeted. The number of girl games, I believe is unknown. I personally, love playing sporting type games, Rugby Challenge and NBA2K14 and play them on a regular basis. Further to this, female representation in games is poor. 6% of all video game protagonists are female, and in games where you can select your character, 50% of all games do not have any female representative.

According to ESA as of 2013, 55% of video gamers in total are male, and 45% are female. From these statistics it is crazy to see how the gap is closing between female and male gamers, yet there appears to be no change in direction when creating 94% of video game protagonists as male.

I can honestly admit I have never played online (although I have the obvious capacity to do so) and see no interest in extending my gaming to the online gaming community. There are a number of reasons for this:

I would consider myself a casual gamer. This form of gaming is an increasing division in the gaming industry because of its wide reaching mass market appeal. Accessibility to internet, tablet computers and mobile phones with gaming capacity mean more and more people have at least played some form of causal game at some point. Further, these games are appealing to a vast number and scope of people, young vs. old, smart vs. not so smart and male and female. The games are often short, require little to no instructions, trigger stimulation and are highly addictive. Take Candy Crush for example, each level you have to either send an annoying Facebook request to friends, pay the $1.29 or change the time on your iPhone. The addiction of this game spread to all members of my household, to a point where my mother spent $50 on buying ‘new lives’ and ‘catching the train’ – which was a lot faster than waiting for her friend to send a ticket.

Casual gaming is a rapidly growing part of the video games industry because of its mass market appeal. Everyone with access to the internet, a mobile phone or a tablet computer has played casual games at some point or another.  They are usually short and easy to play, with puzzle and simulation elements that make these kinds of games enjoyably addictive. However, most people who are avid casual gamers would not consider themselves  as ‘gamers’.

Stereotypically, what is considered ‘feminine’ from the western ideal supports the notion of commercialised beauty and other undesirable expectations of what it is to be deemed normal. The cultural and social differences between hardcore gamers and casual gamer girls, differ significantly. People generally find it odd when women break from the stereotypical ideals and for hardcore gamers, unfair labeling and connotations become associated with being a serious gamer girl.

There are gamer girls forums and communities which exist specifically for gamer girls (both hardcore and casual) however, even if these sites are designed as an avenue for girl gamers only, male gamers have no problem in voicing their detest and opinion towards this group which further adds another hurdle for gamer girls and exacerbates intimidation for the masked gamer girls who seek support and confidence to uprise, but instead remain closeted.

My personal experience has found that girl gamers will mask their identities and in essence play just as many games and just a frequently as their male video game counterparts. I personally do not take part in gaming community in fear of the wrath, criticism and sexual advances of male hardcore gamers. Many girl gamers ‘mask’ and play as a male protagonist (as only 6% of all games have a female protagonist) and even in my personal experience, I will opt for the male character because they are often more skilled, faster and stronger anyway. In order for change to take place, a challenge to the mindset of many gamers needs to be sought. Most women and girls do not intentionally mean to remain behind the so called mask but perceive gaming as a silly time wasting diversion as opposed to a satisfying hobby.

yep

Accepting girl gamers and treating them simply as fellow gamers rather than a strange alienate, over-sexual and exotic group would assist in shed the negative connotation surrounding gendered superiority across many levels of gaming. It would also go so far as to validate current statistics of the 45/55 percent gender divide in modern casual gaming today.

 

An idealistic man’s world?

A ‘gamer’ is stereotypically illustrated as a male with the ‘typical’ traits; full-fledged geeky personality, possibly overweight, possibly pale and possibly single. Although this is not the case. According to ESA as of 2013, 55% of video gamers in total are male, and 45% are female.

Despite the surprisingly balanced gender divide, sadly this is unsuccessfully portrayed within video games themselves. Unfortunately, females are notably poorly represented inside the game – both by appearance and the role they are desirably assigned in the narrative by the creators.

It is to no surprise that is a recycled concept – even Mario’s Princess Peach was the victim and ultimately Damsel in Distress. She is high feminised, being named ‘princess’ implying she is high-maintenance and self-important, yet nothing without a man to save her. She wears a pink dress and is completed with big bright blue eyes and long blonde hair.

With the gap closing between male and female, it is shocking to see how the games world seems to be rather male oriented. The main character characteristically being a man who is intelligent, brave, muscly, adventurous and most-likely seals the deal with attractiveness. It is an idealistic man’s world regardless of the blatant factual figures that almost half of the players are female!

Alternatively, Lara Croft who was created in 1996 features as a clash of female representational praise, meanwhile remaining problematic. She is the heroic warrior protagonist with intelligence, fearlessness and of course a tiny waist and big bust size. Lara Croft could be seen as either a “role model for young independent girls or the embodiment of a male adolescent fantasy” commented a staff member from ‘PlayStation Magazine’. Fittingly, Lara Croft is due for a redesign or ‘makeover’.

https://i2.wp.com/melodyaustin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/old-lara-croft-2013-lara-croft-tomb-raider1.jpg

In this promotional clip titled ‘#Reborn’ Lara Croft, male, female and a variety of nationalities and races are widely displayed with the quote “There is a survivor in all of us”. Croft is depicted very similarly to those of male characters, with a dramatic reduction of attention focused on her sex and sexuality – she has or is becoming a female character that can be easily relatable and hopefully the bridge between the sexist divide of characters in video games.

Let’s hope it’s onwards and upwards from here for representational equality for all.