Hypersexualism in Gameplay and the Problem of the Action Heroine

The history of consumption of video games and computer games has largely been of one-sided demographics: the notion that men are more likely than women, boys more than girls, to play the games that had been the backbone of the gaming industry.  This notion has also become entrenched in the stereotype of the gamer as young adult or adolescent males.  With the rise of casual gaming through online games, social games, and mobile games, we have seen this gender gap shrink, and even reverse.  However, such a change is if one considers gaming as a whole; when considering video, computer and even MMO gaming to online, social and mobile gaming, the gap still sees more male players than female players.

For years, various studies have been conducted to explore this gendered gap, resulting in various theories.  In 2005, for my master’s thesis, I conducted a study to explore the reason behind this gendered gap by focusing on how women are represented in video games.  The portrayal of women in games has received both empirical and critical scrutiny, finding that this portrayal is consistently in the vein of sexuality and submissiveness.  One particular portrayal, hypersexualism, is embodied in the archetype of Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, whose advertised body size is 5’9″, 132 lbs and 34D-24-35.

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That Whole Abortion Thing? Just Kidding!

When Buffy Season 9 Issue 6 came out, I applauded it.  I even wrote a whole essay on why I think the story and Buffy’s decision worked.  I defended Buffy’s decision to get an abortion as it reflected the struggle modern women have to balance family and career, and I defended Whedon’s decision to have this decision become the centerpiece for an entire issue of this comic book series based on the need for having such serious portrayals of this topic in our popular and public discourse.

Then Issue 7 was released in March.  I did not read it until this past week, so I’m behind the game on this one.  Technically, I did not read it until after Issue 8 had been released.  So, yeah, definitely behind the game.

Because of how much I supported what happened in Issue 6, what happened in Issue 7, and was explained in Issue 8, came as quite a big shock.  We’re talking major twist, the kind that feels like someone just twisted a book in two.

So, Spoiler Alert.

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Cultivated Learning Theory: Graduate school, year one

In the theory class of the first semester of my first year as a graduate student, I was in a group with two other MA hopefuls, and we wrote a paper on how we would study the topic of how the media influences adolescents’ and young adults’ sexual behaviors.  Always the clever one, I termed this paper “The Birds and the Bees” as we focused … Continue reading Cultivated Learning Theory: Graduate school, year one

Virtual Living Room: CBS and NBC Experiment with Interactive Television

In a previous post, I began a discussion on how American producers — professionals, semi-professionals and amateurs — are experimenting with using Internet-based distribution to promote and produce interactive television.  In that post, I highlighted the case study of the live telecast for the SyFy series Ghost Hunters.  In this post, I continue this discussion by highlighting the experiments from the American broadcast networks CBS and … Continue reading Virtual Living Room: CBS and NBC Experiment with Interactive Television