Why video games need feminism and feminism needs video games.
“You play like a girl”: it's meant to be an insult, accusing a player of subpar, un-fun playing. If you're a girl, and you grow up, do you “play like a woman”—whatever that means? In this provocative and enlightening book, Shira Chess urges us to play like feminists. Furthermore, she urges us to play video games like feminists. Playing like a feminist is empowering and disruptive; it exceeds the boundaries of gender yet still advocates for gender equality. Playing like a feminist offers a new way to think about how humans play —and also a new way to think about how feminists do their feministing. Chess argues that feminism needs video games as much as video games need feminism.
Video games, Chess tells us, are primed for change. Roughly half of all players identify as female, and Gamergate galvanized many of gaming's disenfranchised voices. Games themselves are in need of a creative platform-expanding, metaphysical explosion; feminism can make games better. Chess reflects on the importance of play, and playful protest, and how feminist video games can help us rethink the ways that we tell stories. She proposes “Women's Gaming Circles”—which would function like book clubs for gaming—as a way for feminists to take back play. (An appendix offers a blueprint for organizing a gaming circle.) Play and games can be powerful. Chess's goal is for all of us—regardless of gender orientation, ethnicity, ability, social class, or stance toward feminism—to spend more time playing as a tool of radical disruption.