Research 5- Ruin, Gender, and Digital Games

This article, “Ruin, Gender, and Digital Games” was written by Even Watts and published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. 39, no. 3 & 4, in Fall/Winter 2011.  Link here:

The main idea introduced at the beginning of this article is how freedom for social constraint is granted from ruins, i.e. women are granted some social freedoms from the ruins of a masculine-dominated society.  Several examples of games are given that demonstrate ruin-imagery.

The article notes that past studies have shown  that female players on the whole have a marked dislike of violence and aggression in games, but also notes that the “good-versus-evil themes” are not well liked by female players, either. The study finding this however, was done in 1998.

Mass Effect is mentioned as “a good example of how complex the interactions between… various aspects of digital games can get,” which I will focus on a bit more, given my research relating to that series. However, Bioshock, Fallout 3, and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are all looked at in more detail. With Mass Effect, there are a “wide range of allowances and consequences,” in other words, a lot of choices to be made and consequences for those choices, and together these choices and consequences complicate the landscape of the game, making it much more than a simple battle of “good versus evil” or shooting guns to solve problems.

The conclusion is that there are many deep-seeded themes highlighted in many games that depict ruin, and often times one of these themes is the ruin of a patriarchal society- this ruin involves “freedom, gender, and power” portrayals on many different levels.


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