Gender bending, rule bending and many more bends – contesting hegemonic masculinities in video games

kratos-as-a-female

Robin Ek Picture: a female kratos, sure why not?

In the recent years, video games are sneaking out of the ‘ghetto’ and into the mainstream of popular culture and every-day lives of many people especially youth. But, you know what? Video games are still very much a male dominated arena. Accross the globe, and surprisingly enough, even in Norway, video gaming along with technology education and work are strongly male dominated (My colleague Hilde has published extensively on this). The established fact is that, video gaming is associated with young, white males and usually, girls and women’s positive relationship to gaming is often overlooked, because of perceptions that they either are absent or have little interest in playing computer games. Such cultural assumptions give rise to low expectations of girls’ interest in computer games, and at the same time the effect that girls can undermine or even hide their interest in computer. So, what then with immigrant girls – and boys? How is gender constructed and manifested through and about video games? Our study on immigrant youth video game habits sought to fill the knowledge gap, in trying to gain insights into gaming habits of immigrant boys and girls in Norway – there is already a lot of research on Norwegian youth. We decided to approach the study from an intersectionality perspective and the focus on gender became quite significant in this study. We wanted to tackle and understand the challenges of hegemony, power, inclusion and exclusion when it comes to ‘women’ or girls, and technology but most importantly in video gaming culture. Gender bending happens all the time in video games (sometimes with dire consequences), but what other bends can we find when we study the gaming habits of immigrant youth in Norway. Some fascinating findings can be found in the report on Vestforsk.no.

 

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