Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Video Games as Literature

An elaboration on our mission at Girl in the Machine

Oftentimes when I mention to strangers that I play video games, the glint in their eyes or the sardonic curve of their smile seems to suggest that I look dumber than I did a few moments before. I think, though, that this means they have never considered the appeal of gaming or its similarities to conventional literature.

Video games are discredited as a result of their most appealing features, such as the graphics. Admittedly, games present you with visuals for the characters and setting, whereas we rely on reading comprehension and contextual clues to form these mental images when reading novels or short stories. Games have a decided advantage against traditional texts—their interactivity. Like the reader of a novel, a video game player experiences the story, except in a more direct fashion.

Because of their interactive nature, video game characters serve as an extension of the player’s identity. Through this new “prosthetic identity,” the player participates with a directly active role in the story.

Consider the game Indigo Prophecy. In it, Lucas Kane awakens to find he has committed a murder, but he has no memory of it. The player acts as both Lucas and the police officers Carla and Tyler. As Lucas, the player wants to escape the crime scene, return to a normal life, and figure out how and why he was committed the murder. As the police officers, the player has a mystery to solve, including looking for clues, gathering information, and interrogating witnesses. The player can purposely foil either side and directly impact the outcome of the story, which has three decidedly different endings.

Other games possess strong thematic connections to canonized literary works. For example:
• Rule of Rose recalls similar themes to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, including the loss of innocence and the tragic relationships within abusive groups.
• The Kingdom Hearts series recalls Homer’s The Odyssey or Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with its quests to find/prove oneself and face destiny, not to mention the coming of age elements.
• Silent Hill 3, with its absurd and ironic world, recalls the works of Kurt Vonnegut. The themes of rape and its effects on women are echoed in texts like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

The same strategies used when analyzing “high literature” can also be applied to gaming. Why, then, do many treat it as a less legitimate form of media? Part of it may be stem from fear, while part of it may stem from stubbornness.

Even books are, by definition, a form of technology we use to learn.

Considering video games as a genuine for of literature, they become an exciting vehicle for exploring the notions of feminism. As with conventional texts, an awareness of the presentation of men and women in gaming, including their sex and gender, race, socioeconomic class, and other limitless factors can help us enhance our understanding of the world and its machinations.

So get out there, play some games, and learn something.

Labels:

 Posted by Calabar
 5:51 AM + Link to this post
  1 comments

 
About
Girl in the Machine
BomberGirl
Calabar
PlasmaRit

Latest Entries
Checking In
First Friday Drinking Game
Sidetracked: Personal Outrage
On Female Leads
A Look into the Industry's Perception of "Girl Gam...
The Scale of RPG Heroines III
Femininity: Whose Problem is It?
Countdown to Corruption
The Scale of RPG Heroines II
Oh Mii, Oh My.

Tags
Action Adventure
Adventure
Body Language
BomberGirl
Calabar
Castlevania
Character Spotlight
Civilization
Elder Scrolls
Fatal Frame
Final Fantasy
Fighter
First Friday Drinking Game
FPS
Getting it Right
Guitar Hero
Half-Life
Harvest Moon
Indie
The Industry
In the News
Legend of Zelda
LGBT
Linkfest
Mario Bros.
Mass Effect
Metal Gear
Metroid
MMORPG
Motherhood
PlasmaRit
Platforming
Primal
Prince of Persia
Race Issues
RPG
RTS
Rule of Rose
Scale
Sexuality
Shadow Hearts
Shin Megami Tensei
Silent Hill
The Sims
Star Fox
Stealth
Stereotypes
Street Fighter
Super Smash Bros.
Survival Horror
Tomb Raider
Turok
Video Game Movies
Violence
World of Warcraft

Archives
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008

Links
BlogHer
Cerise Magazine
The F-Word Blog
Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog Game Girl Advance
GayGamer.net
Iris Gaming Network
Killer Betties
New Game Plus
Penny Arcade
Racialicious
Shrub.com Blog
Under the Table Gaming
Women Gamers
Zone of the Gamers

Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox at a 1028 by 768 resolution.

Powered by Blogger

blogspot visit counter