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From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (February 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262531682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262531689
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This book explores the complicated issue of gender in computer games­-particularly the development of video games for girls. One side is the concern that the average computer game, being attractive primarily to boys, furthers the technology access gap between the genders. Yet attempts to create computer games that girls want to play brings about another set of concerns: should games be gendered at all? And does having boys' games and girls' games merely reinforce the way gender differences are socialized in play?

Cassell and Jenkins have gathered the thoughts of several feminist and media scholars to explore the issues from multiple perspectives, but this is not a work confined to ivory-tower theorizing. Alongside the philosophical explorations are pragmatic investigations of the hard-nosed, real world of computer-game manufacture and sales. Particularly enlightening is a section featuring interviews with several leading creators of games for girls. And while all agree that it's good to be past the days when women in computer games were limited to scantily clad background figures or damsels in distress, the visions of an appropriate future are both diverse and well defended. There is no pretense here of easy answers, but there are many excellent questions. --Elizabeth Lewis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this intriguing anthology of essays, studies and interviews, voices from both academia and industry discuss what the experience of computer games is and should be for girls. While game creators have recently discovered the young female consumer, few of these authors are happy with the offerings, which tend to push domesticity and an obsession with looks. Almost all the contributors share some basic belief that the marketplace is dominated by games promoting bad values while shortchanging values identifiable as truly feminist. As Cassell points out, feminism in this context can mean values not pertaining exclusively to gender. The resulting proposals for video games are filled with such buzzwords as "subjective," "creativity," "community" and "collaboration" (all good) as opposed to "violent," "competitive" and "conquest" (all bad). It is always nice to see theorists come down from the clouds to enter into discussions of everyday-life subjects such as the ramifications of the Tomb Raider character Lara Croft's ample endowment. The best move of the editors is to conclude the volume with commentary by girl gamers, many of whom worry that the contributors' solutions will underequip girls for the ugly real world. Says one: "I don't want to be friends! I want to be King!"
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Henry Jenkins is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you have only boys in your family or have never put down money for a computer game, you probably haven't kept up with the brouhaha that has been developing over computer games for girls that has appeared in the last four years.
The focus on computer games for girls became a issue when it was noticed that while boys liked playing computer games and were more comfortable with computers; girls stayed away from these games. The result - girls would be computer illiterate and be unable to compete in the technical job market.
The book is openly feminist, dealing with how girls and women are represented in computer games; bringing in academic research into gender play, and interviewing the women in the game companies who are designing and producing the games. The interviews with the women in the game industry offers outsiders the rare opportunity to hear the opinions of the designers and developers. Some explain how market research determines what they produce, others provide a more personal view of what moves them to design. The word "empowerment" appears repeatedly.
The editors conclude with ideas for game play that gives voice and play space to both girls and boys. The book's inclusive points of view ends with a talk back piece by Game Grrls - women who enjoy playing action games to compete and win - often over men. The book provides a scholarly treatise on girls, computers, and society. Each of the academic chapters are followed by extensive bibliographies. For whose who are interested in the subject it is extremely valuable to have everything in one place.
Genevieve Katz © 1999, Games4Girls
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
This collection is truly thought-provoking and insightful. It dares to tackle one of today's most challenging issues -- the relationship between gender and technology. The book is worth owning for the first chapter alone, Cassell and Jenkins' "Chess for Girls? Feminism and Computer Games."
For video game programmers and toy designers, this book should be required reading, especially for those who wish to be conscious of their contribution to gender differences in society. And a must read for parents and video game enthusiasts alike.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann M. Williams on May 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found the first few chapters very helpful when writing my final paper for a graduate class in computer games and simulations. I was surprised when I conducted a survey for my paper that very few of the mostly female respondents supported use of computer games designed for girls in the classroom. They thought software should be free of gender bias. Of course, they didn't realize that much of the software being used in the classroom now was designed for boys!
Ann Williams
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book when it first came out and although I don't remember all of it, it left me with a good impression and I never regretted buying it. I wasn't even studying technology back then, so I bought it purely because I thought it would be interesting and was not disappointed.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andy JKR on January 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What a pretty fine job! I'm copiling my thesis at university about the topic of videogames. Well, if you are in the same conditions of mine do not miss this book. It is not only a good example of understandable writing but it focuses on important topics too many times left in a corner. Of course, everyone who would approach a study of videogames phenomenon should consider that since they see the light, videogames were full of masculine points of view (and the relative effects whose they carry with them). Despite some relatively non fundamental mistakes, I think that the book hit the bull's eye: attracting the reader inside a new perspective by which he/her can consider the whole subject. The result, in my personal opinion, was a more complete and clear idea about videogames world. After I've finished to read the last line my feeling was the awarness that I didn't miss any aspect of a topic (which still complex, from a social-cognitive point of view). [p.s.: I hope my English is enough understandable]
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elena Siegman on December 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Would that every game development professional would read this book! Well written, thought provoking and presented in a straightforward, non-confrontational manner. Thanks!
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