May 4 and 6 Jessica held a lecture and workshop on computer games, as part of the course SASH24 Violence, gender and culture – a global survey, held at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University. More than 30 students split into two groups, experienced hands-on sessions in two lab rooms. In one of the rooms, the HEX lab, using the PS3 and the Wii consoles they discussed avatar construction and moral decision making; in the Mac lab they tried out some web-based games talking about games as a violent medium and about the potential of games to proved ethical gameplay experience, that is ethics of computer games  (2009) à la Miguel Sicart. Lotta assisted this well visited event and we conclude that both students and teachers seemed to enjoy and learn from the experience.


The third and, for this semester, last seminar in the Digital Cultures and Games series run by HEX took place last Tuesday. This time it was Dr. Esther MacCallum-Stewart, from the University of Chichester and SMARTlab, the University of East London, who spoke on “The Street Smart of a Cartoon Princess: Female Avatars, Female Players”. One of her articles is to be found in Eludamos No 1, 2008: “Real Boys Carry Girly Epics: Normalising Gender Bending in Online Games”. The lecture was followed by a workshop where the participants tried a couple of different games such as Fall Out 3. Here the player has to decide how to design her/his avatar, from gender and skin colour to hairstyle and shape of the mouth.   The series will continue next semester – check the HEX-site for more information!


Simsmother-shahrazNew Scientist reports on a new study, “The virtual census: representations of gender, race and age in video games”  by Williams et al published in New Media & Society, Vol. 11, No. 5, 815-834 (2009): “The survey reveals that males, adults and white people are over-represented in games. Females, black people, children and the elderly are correspondingly under-represented.” Male characters make up 85% of characters compared to 51% of the real population. Williams says:  “For developers this would be a missed opportunity […] For players it is a potential source of identity-based problems.”