Last week, I had the chance to visit the studio of the tv show “Couleurs Locales” (UnisTV/TV5) in Toronto. I participated to an episode about video games as the guest of the week. We discussed many topics related to video games, such as the player’s profile, the most popular game genres, gender representations in games, the place of women in the game industry, serious and expressive games, cheating in online video games, etc. You have until March 6 to watch it online!
2015. FREE SPEACH. A Second Life Machinima Parody. MIT Game Lab. 15 minutes.
FREE SPEACH – A Second Life Machinima Parody is a 15-minute length animated film, created with the collaboration of MIT Game Lab and a group of MIT undergraduate students, that mocks gender stereotypes such as the damsel in distress, the sexy female combatant, the muscular macho man and the superficial bimbo from video games such as Zelda, Super Mario, Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto and Second Life. The movie revolves around the story of Princess Peach who leaves the Mushroom Kingdom because she is tired of conforming to the passive role that she was programmed for. During her quest, she meets other video game characters that help her to change her destiny. Borrowing from Judith Butler’s (1990) theory on gender performativity and performance, the film illustrates the idea that gender and sex categories are socially constructed and can therefore be reworked. The film is intended to raise awareness on gender stereotypes, to conduct a reception study on the critical potential of parodies and to engage the viewers in a collective action. It is now available on YouTube.
I am proud to announce the release of my video game prototype “A Conversation With Hugo” that is intended to raise awareness on gender issues and bullying. The game was presented at the event “Indie Games Montreal” during the festival Montréal Joue (SAT, February 21, 2015) alongside prestigious indie game companies. PLAY
I just came back from the Conference “Thinking, Analysing and Designing Expressive games” (Metz, France) where a bunch of scholars in game studies were trying to define expressive games and to differentiate them from serious games. I heard many interesting talks, including one from Espen Aarseth who was challenging the notion of “procedural rhethoric” developed by Ian Bogost and who was defending the idea that games are not only creating meanings through their mechanics but also through their images and texts. In my talk, I presented the prototype of my game “A Conversation with Hugo” and broke down its creation process to identify the elements that make it an expressive games instead of a serious game, such as its more casual context of play, its vague intention, its shorter dialogues, its procedural expressivity, its less realistic visual design, its minimalistic paratext, and its stronger authorship. I did not present these elements as necessary components of expressive games, but rather as elements that help recognizing this type of game in absence of clues about the creator’s intentions. During my stay in Metz, I also participated to the inauguration of the Game Lab at TCRM-Blida. Here are some pictures of me playing games in the lab!
On May 29, my colleague Maude Bonenfant and I gave a talk entitled “Bridging Boundaries Between Game Studies and Feminist Theory” at Brock University (St. Catharines, Ontario, CA). We showed how relevant feminist theories can be for game studies, even if they were not developed during the digital era or in regards to new technologies. More precisely, we demonstrated that Simone De Beauvoir’s (1949) concept of the “Second Sex” can be useful to study the Ms. Male and the Smurfette character tropes. We also suggested that Luce Irigaray’s (1977) theory on women as “currency of exchange” helps to understand that the princess kidnapping plot perpetuates the archaic conception of women as spoils of war and as men’s properties that can be exchanged in order to cement or break alliances. We showed that Betty Friedan’s (1963) concept of the “feminine mystique” could be helpful to understand why female characters should not be depicted as natural-born happy homemakers. We finally demonstrated that the “serial girls” figure, recently developed by Martine Delvaux (2013), is useful to study the repetitive and homogenous representations of women in video games’ narratives, advertisements and conventions. In light of those examples, it became clear that game studies and feminist studies can mutually benefit from the establishment of more bridges between the two disciplines.
We took advantage of our stay in Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada) to visit surprising and colourful attractions, such as the Dracula’s Haunted Castle and the rainbow falls!