In the article Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons? Gender and Gender-Role Subversion in Computer Adventure Games author Anne-Marie Schleiner makes many arguments in regards to gaming, gender roles and the effects.
This summary focuses on page 224 in the section titled Lara as Positive Role Model. Schleiner argues that Laura Croft as a role model is a helpful one. She makes two main points. One: That female gaming avatars clearly invite girls/women into the gaming world. And two: That females who are involved in gaming (playing, creating, and using the space) have an authority in the games themselves, as well as the production.
Her argument is supported by an article called How Being a Good Girl Can Be Bad for Women which says that Lara Croft as a gaming role model is better than what was available in the past. They specifically site “Ms. Pacman, Barbie Fashion Designer and the nonviolent, social games produced by Purple Moon.” The authors collectively say that Lara Croft, as gaming avatar, is a good example for girls in that she is has an education, is bold and daring (plus she can kick some hiney in a fight).
Generally playing games is a teaching gizmo typically geared at boys, and with this, aspects of math and science and problem solving. The section ended with Schleiner saying that “[f]rom a feminist perspective, it is important for women not to be excluded from this cycle or from the positions of influence in the larger information sector that will be increasingly tied into an “education” in gaming/computer-geek culture.”
I have so many directions that my thought process is going so I’ll list what I’m thinking and then focus on one.
Math and science are male dominated fields. Gamers are boys/men. Is Barbie a good role model (or better than Lara Croft)? Avatars are extensions of our meatspace into our VR space.
Go, go Gadget brain!
Math and science are NOT geared toward women.
I was at PNNL yesterday for their Black History Month panel discussion. The event was also honoring Dr. William R. Wiley. Here is a link to the newspaper article from today’s Tri-City Herald.
There were four panel members, one was a woman, all were in the science technology field. The lone female on the stage was Dr. Novella Bridges, who smart and well spoken, plus she is a kick butt scientist at a national lab. Not very many women are in this profession and even fewer are black.
Dr. Bridges told a story about when she was a young girl in high school and how she wanted to go into science and how she was discouraged. She spoke highly of her HS chemistry teacher (who was scientist that left his job at a lab to return to teaching because that’s what he loved) who encouraged her to go to college and get her degree in a science related field. Other than from this teacher (and family) she did not get positive feedback about her choice. It was suggested to her to change her major or just play sports.
If Dr. Bridges conceded to this pressure she would not be where she is today.
You go Girl!
When I read this article I kept thinking Lara Croft empowers girls to play a game that can increase their brains in the ways of problem solving, and get them thinking in a more analytical way.
I hope girls play games and are inspired to do things they never thought possible the way that Dr. Bridges did.
Yes, Lara Croft is scantly dressed, but so are tons of people on MTV and in movies that young kids are exposed to everyday.
I have not played this particular game or read it as a text, so I have no insight as to how it works or what Lara Croft does, but I say anything that can get girls thinking about math and science and things other than Barbie (man, that chick always gets a bad rap), then.I.say.good!
Schleiner, Anne-Marie. “Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons? Gender and Gender-Role Subversion in Computer Adventure Games.” MIT Press 34.3 (2001): 221-26. Web. 26 Feb 2010. <http://www.academicsandbox.com/S10/DTC475/schleiner_laracroft.pdf>.