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.

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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.”