Which leads us to the second point: games are a form of media. Media; like books, or video, or ancient scrolls, or newspapers, or TV broadcasts, or pamphlets, or press-releases. Just as “books” aren’t all supposed to be “fun, entertaining reads” neither must games. There are books that are written for entertainment (of all persuasions), just as there books designed to teach or instruct, or recount history, or inspire action or bring to tears. A film/video can be an instructional safety video or an inspiring work of artistic vision and narrative. Games are no different – and they certainly don’t have an obligation to be “fun” despite their historic roots. So long as a past notion of fun is used as a benchmark for conceiving of and evaluating games, the potential of the media is going to be constrained.
Jason Beck writes eloquently and thoughtfully about discrimination and its possible solutions on his blog “The Bored Gaymer” (BoardGameGeek’s most popular blog with the words “Bored” and “Gaymer” in the title!). This time he discusses what men can do to make the gaming hobby more friendly towards women.
That is, men ought to be interested in feminism, broadly speaking, for two reasons: first, because we ought to want equal rights, equal dignity, fair treatment, and so on, for the women in our lives (i.e. not just as an abstract philosophical notion, but because we can and should look around us and see mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, aunts, co-workers, friends, all of whom are impacted by structural inequality); and second, because men (generally speaking) hold the positions of power and, as such, are positioned to encourage more rapid change.
What I’d like to do, then, is consider the ways in which Ms. Watson’s speech can be applied at the micro-level of our gaming communities and at the macro-level of gaming culture.