Critical Play: Play Like a Feminist

I played a game called “With Those We Love Alive,” on the recommendation of one of my project 2 teammates. It was developed by, whose home page contains links to various places and a naked woman with a severed arm surrounded by flying medical pills. The target audience appears to be anyone who wants a short, chill, thought provoking fantasy/scifi story game. The game begins by asking my birth month (october), my eye color (brown), and my element (I chose petal, because I like flowers and the other options were depressing (like tears)). To play the game, you click on different available text prompts. The game begins by describing the player as an artificer, and stating that the larval empress has need of my services. I am escorted to a courtyard, and left to my own devices to explore. During one of my explorations, the game invites me to meditate. It says to take a deep breath, waits, and then says to exhale. I can repeat this task as many times as desired, and even request different breath speeds. 


With regards to playing as a feminist, I found this excerpt from the book intriguing: “Yet in the introduction to their volume Feminism in Play, Kishonna Gray, Gerald Voorhees and Emma Vossen write that “‘games provide both training grounds for the consumption of narratives and stereotypes and opportunities to become instruments of hegemony.’” In other words, video games have a history that might tend toward misogyny but have the overwhelming potential in their format to revise, rethink, and reprogram what it means to be a game.” As a personal anecdote, I group up with six siblings (2 girls, 3 boys, 1 nb). All of us had/have some sort of relationship with video games, and I believe we as adults have all been shaped by those experiences. I found the idea of a ‘training ground’ to be particularly resonant. But I don’t believe the games we played in our childhood were as important as how they introduced us to different online cultural spheres. My stepbrother found his way into highly toxic communities, now having become some version of alt-right. But my twin found their way into much more supportive communities, and was able to learn about and explore the concept of their gender in a way that non-online communities couldn’t have given them. It is very important for me to note that I don’t think video games were the primary factor in these divergent paths at all (my stepbrother was violent long before that exposure, and the internet is obviously not responsible for my twin’s gender), just that these ‘training grounds’ are highly influential, not just in their role as games, but in their role as an introduction to wide swaths of culture, for better or for worse. 

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