AbstractsSocial Sciences

Make Room for Video Games: Exergames and the "Ideal Woman".

by Julia Golden Raz

Institution: University of Michigan
Department: Communication Studies
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: video games; game studies; feminist game studies; Communications; Social Sciences
Record ID: 2061755
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/111350


This study, a textual analysis, examines the social and cultural construction of the ideal woman in the contemporary exergames ecology, during the years of 2006-2014. This time period has been called a ???casual revolution,??? where, beginning with the Nintendo Wii, casual video games have permeated our culture as a technology designed for everyone (Juul 2010). Exergames are a genre of casual games that are designed for the primary purpose of fitness and health. Today, video game culture is an exclusionary boy???s club, and studies have mainly focused on over displays of misogyny, overlooking more subtle displays. The following research questions are answered: How do contemporary, console-based exergames and related paratexts define what it means to be a woman in video game culture? What does this construction reveal about contemporary cultural ideals about women, technology, and domestic space? How does the socio-historical context inform this construction of womanhood? By examining exergames and related paratexts, including advertisements, game boxes, articles and reviews, this study found that exergames construct adult women through a complex and contradictory blend traditional and modern notions of womanhood. In particular, the ideal woman construct is a covert form of misogyny because it invites adult women to participate, but only a particular segment of women. This ultimately excludes the majority of women from gaming culture, narrowly defining who can and cannot participate. There are several reasons why this is the case. First, this is the result of the broader narratives in the misogynist, exclusionary gaming culture. In addition, this construct draws from traditional notions of gendered work and leisure within the home. Finally, this is a symptom of the socio-cultural context of the 2000s, in order to justify video games as a ???good thing??? for women and redress what the genre of video games has been blamed for in our culture.