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.
Table of Contents
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
Jon Saklofske is a literature professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. His interest in the ways that William Blake’s composite art illuminates the relationship between words and images on the printed page has inspired current research into alternative platforms for open social scholarship, as well as larger correlations between media forms and cultural perceptions. In addition to experimenting with virtual environments and games as tools for academic research, communication, and pedagogy, Jon’s other research interests include virtuality and environmental storytelling in Disney theme parks, research creation experiments, and the relationship between networks and narratives in video games.
Alyssa Arbuckle is Associate Director of the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) at the University of Victoria, Canada. Through this role she serves as the Project Manager of the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership, and assists with the coordination of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). Arbuckle is also an interdisciplinary PhD Candidate at the University of Victoria, studying open social scholarship and its implementation. She holds a BA Honours in English from the University of British Columbia and an MA in English from the University of Victoria, where her previous studies centred around digital humanities, new media, and contemporary American literature. Currently, she explores open access, digital publishing, and how we communicate scholarship generally. To this end, Arbuckle's work has appeared in Digital Studies, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Scholarly and Research Communication, among other publications. She has also recently co-edited a print and online collection called Social Knowledge Creation in the Humanities.
Jon Bath is an associate professor of Art and Art History at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, where he teaches electronic art, design, and the book arts, and researches the connection between the form and content of communication technologies.