Feminist War Games? explores the critical intersections and collisions between feminist values and perceptions of war, by asking whether feminist values can be asserted as interventional approaches to the design, play, and analysis of games that focus on armed conflict and economies of violence.
Focusing on the ways that games, both digital and table-top, can function as narratives, arguments, methods, and instruments of research, the volume demonstrates the impact of computing technologies on our perceptions, ideologies, and actions. Exploring the compatibility between feminist values and systems of war through games is a unique way to pose destabilizing questions, solutions, and approaches; to prototype alternative narratives; and to challenge current idealizations and assumptions. Positing that feminist values can be asserted as a critical method of design, as an ideological design influence, and as a lens that determines how designers and players interact with and within arenas of war, the book addresses the persistence and brutality of war and issues surrounding violence in games, whilst also considering the place and purpose of video games in our cultural moment.
Feminist War Games? is a timely volume that questions the often-toxic nature of online and gaming cultures. As such, the book will appeal to a broad variety of disciplinary interests, including sociology, education, psychology, literature, history, politics, game studies, digital humanities, media and cultural studies, and gender studies, as well as those interested in playing, or designing, socially engaged games.
Part I: Introduction
Feminist War games? Mechanisms of War, Feminist Values, and Interventional Games
Alyssa Arbuckle, Jon Saklofske, Jon Bath, and the Implementing New Knowledge Environments Partnership
Part II: Play as Inquiry
1. Are There (Can There Be/Should There Be) Feminist War Games?
Jon Saklofske, Emily Cann, Danielle Rodrigue-Todd, and Derek Siemens
2. Gendered Authorship in War Gaming: Whose Fantasy is it Anyway?
3. An Overview of the History and Design of Tabletop Wargames in Relation to Gender: From Tactics to Strategy
4. Reframing the Domestic Experience of War in This War of Mine: Life on the Battlefield
Part III: Feminism as War
5. Gamified Suburban Violence and the Feminist Pleasure of Destructive Play: Rezoning Warzones
6. Because We are Always Warring: Feminism, Games, and War
Suzanne de Castell and Jennifer Jenson
7. Exploring Agency and Female Player–Character Relationships in Life is Strange: What Choice do I Have?
8. ‘What is a Feminist War Game?’: A Game Jam Reflection
Part IV: Challenging the Industry
9. Feminism and the Forever Wars: Prototyping Games in the Time of ‘America First’
10. Seven Dimensions of a Feminist War Game: What We Can Learn from This War of Mine
11. Failed Feminist Interventions in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
12. Subversive Game Mechanics in the Fatal Frame and Portal Franchises: Having Your Cake and Eating it Too
13. Toxic Pacifism and the Problems with or Potential of Non-Violent Playthroughs
Jon Bath and Elly Cockroft
Part V: Afterword
Taking Binaries Off the Table