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> (eng )Forums > Forum - Stereotypes, analysis, image deconstruction - Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger

.: Forum - Stereotypes, analysis, image deconstruction - Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger :.

Computer games have already been themes in interesting discussions, since for many children games are the first contact with computers and thus have the potential to keep people interested in technological issues. Facing the low partition of female computer scientists, the question could be: why are there only few computer games adequate for females’ requirements?
Several empirical studies show gender-specific aspects of computer games: 85% of male players assess “weapons” (55% of female players) and 70% “action” (25% of female players) as most important quality measures for computer games. There is an underlying assumption that females prefer “less challenging” games – which could be seen as gender-bias of investigation – but as matter of fact, they appreciate different features as males (such as role or strategy games, see e.g. Hart 2000). As Richard (2002) points out, in the presentation of women in computer games social value systems are expressed: e.g. weakness is not only a question of education, but it is also cultivated by ways of dressing: The analysis of several female heroes such as Betty Boo, Wonder Woman, Barbarella, Emma Peel, Xena, Lara Croft shows that there are multiple coded dressing language, combining male pieces with female attributes. Thus they lead to ambiguity and open up a space of discourse. This space is exactly the hope for feminist discussion: since virtual worlds allow for making “abstract” knowledge able to experience, reflecting unconscious stereotyping, computer games are a tool for bringing a new dimension into the gender discussion
The paper will highlight this discursive space and present an example, namely FemCity: a feminist computer game. This game was financed by the Viennese office for Women Affairs and designed for young women. The basic idea is to let the gamers “experience” feminist topics such as education, role-expectation, jobs and the like. The multi-user game allows gamers to explore a city consisting of various buildings in which life spheres such as friends, sexuality, family planning, education, experience and the like are presented. In different rooms different situations have to be mastered, sometimes in cooperation sometimes in competition.
The game was also conceptualised as educational software, since teachers could use the knowledge space for further treatment. This is an interesting approach, since e.g. Hanappi-Egger (2000) has shown that infotainment becomes a topic of increasing importance. In order to prevent according software from being gender-stereotyping and from functioning as barrier for women design-guidelines have to be formulated. FemCity will sketch the way.

Prof. Diplo.- Ing Dr Edeltraud Hannapi-Egger, University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna
Research group “Gender and diversity in Organisations”

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