Women and games - technologies of the gendered self

Activities with some seeing gaming as squarely

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activities, with some seeing gaming as squarely separate from ‘real life’ or reality and others acknowledging that the two overlap and co-constitute each other. Power gamers who have integrated gaming technologies into their everyday lives construct a gendered self that might be described as more fluid and androgynous, in that it is comprised of a palette of chosen traits and interests; this contrasts with a gendered female self that embodies ‘traditional’ norms reflective of a masculine/feminine binary.The integration of gaming technology empowers women with a confidence that prevails in the challenge and competition that they encounter in games. Even ‘conventional’ signs of femininity, such as long nails and sexualized representations, were viewed by many of these women as pleasurable and emancipating, rather than as subjugating them in male–female power dynamics. By comparison, the gendered self of moderate gamers is situated in a liminal space between ‘real life’ and gaming.Although moderate gamers enjoy playing and can be quite good at it, they have not fully integrated gaming technologies with their gendered identity.While power gamers perform a more fluid and androgynous gender in gaming, moderate gamers’ self-constructions do not demonstrate this degree of fusion but rather they suggest an uneasy alliance between identity and activity. For them, gaming functions as a coping mechanism, a vehicle of escape from reality, and games provide an opportunity to control an environment on their own terms. For them, gaming is a sphere apart from ‘reality’. Moderate gamers perceive gaming as a predominantly male activity and situate themselves as more closely aligned with ‘the real world’ than the fantasy worlds of particular games. Subsequently, in thus making the distinction and then negotiating reality and gaming, moderate gamers construct a gendered self that appears to be positioned in an uneasy truce between two worlds. In contrast, non-gamers, who rejected gaming and its culture as totally masculine, positioned themselves as successfully living in the ‘real world’. Here again, gameworlds are separate from the ‘real’ world, as articulated by this group. In this study, these women frequently rejected gaming because it takes New Media & Society 9(4) 572 at Akademia Leona Kozminskiego on September 17, 2016 nms.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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too much time, a commodity they perceive as already limited and better spent on ‘social’ activities – interests and pursuits that are often generalized as more traditionally feminine.The non-gamers studied had less understanding of gaming technologies and tended to depict players as interpersonally inept and ‘addicted’ to gaming. Unlike power and moderate gamers, the non-gamers did not appear to appreciate the emancipative potential of games, neither did they discern the possibility of negotiating a ‘truce’ between gaming and reality, or even less likely, see how the two might merge in any way.
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