dinsdag 23 november 2010

"Know Thyself"

Heiko Nerenz ©
When asked know thyself in relation to computergames, memories start bubbling up from far away places I have visited as a child. Lost lands in which talking dinosaurs lived side by side with humans, deep oceans in which I helped its exotic inhabitants find their lost whale king. I remember searching for a prinses, but never finding her, and visiting magical islands that made no sense to me, as if I were Alice who just stepped through the looking glass. These virtual places weaved themselves through my being as a child and have been an integral part of my identity ever since.

My virtual travels were delightful and playing games felt natural to me. Both my father and brother played games, as did most of my nephews and uncles. Being the only girl that had an interest in computergames I soon, and quite naturally, took up the role of the spectator. Sitting besides the boys while they took turns playing Prince of Persia (Brøderbund, 1989), I was timid, not daring to take the controls when the boys were around. The title of my blog is a reference to A Room of One’s Own (1929), an essay by Virginia Woolf. At the moment I use this reference merely to emphasize my interest in gender in computergames and game culture.
So, from a young age on I have been playing computergames. To be genre specific I mostly played rpg’s and point ‘n click adventures. Games like EcoQuest (Sierra, 1991), the Kings Quest series (Sierra, 1984), the Syberia series (Microïds, 2002),  Morrowind (Bethesda, 1994) and Psychonauts (Double Fine, 2005) are among my favorites. Though I have liked the occasional shooter or rts-game, depending on the quality. Computergames have been a central part of my life and I have many friends, mostly men, that are gamers and work in the games industry as animators and concept artists.

Since recent years I have started taking games more seriously as a social and cultural phenomenon. This has been mostly influenced by my experiences in World of Warcraft (Blizzard, 2004). Playing a troll on a rp-server I have experienced first hand the impact of this mmorpg on social life, but also on my perception on the world. Real life started resembling a game more and more and this was an experience that roused my academic interests.

Clearly, computergames are of great interest to me, both as a way to relax and as an academic challenge. There are so many things to say, to think and to question when it comes to this wondrous phenomenon. Summing up some interests: gender in games, cultural differences in game culture, games for change. In resonance with Jane McGonigal I have a tendency to be ideological, thinking that games (and play) possess the power to change the world, but at the same time I try to be critical about these assumptions. However, I do believe that there should be more female voices in the various debates.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. really cool reference! Love that title. I had to fight and scream and threaten to tell my parents when i wanted my older brothers let me play. For me it resulted in secretive solo gaming.

    Anyway, yay! a blog! Can't wait to read your next posts!

  2. Woohoo, nice my first reaction! Yeah I thought about you a lot when I was thinking of the title. Still thinking I should officially interview you some time about your gaming history.

    The Blog is specially made for this one subject at University about computergames, but I guess I will use it for more than that in the future!