reblogged from

From an interview with a media critic who looks at female gaming characters and how they are being portrayed. I find this section from the interview to be most interesting, as it highlights thimportance of story-telling in shaping culture.

Also, in looking at the media (especially science fiction characters, or, in other words, ones that are not real) one needs to consider this: Who created these characters and why? These characters don’t just come to life by some miraculous event, they are meticulously sculpted and framed in their digital environment for a particular set of purposes. We shouldn’t forget that there is agency involved in creating fictional characters and that however fictional they might be, people will start to see them as autonomous beings and will eventually compare them to actual real humans. Fiction and reality are thus mixed up together, the boundaries between these two very different spheres blurred. And often this ends up creating problems for people living in the real world. . .

That was my grand input on this and I have already said enough, because this issues is certainly not knew and I believe anyone with half a brain will understand the underlying causes and effects of creating unrealistic and generally hyper-…everything gaming tools. So, below is the section that I find really is the essence of why thinking more rationally about gaming is important. I urge anyone reading this to check out the interviewees site for more in-depth insight.

“You’re a pop culture critic who looks at all sorts of mass media–movies, television, games, and so on. When people respond to your videos with questions like, “Why does this stuff matter? Aren’t TV, movies, and games just entertainment?” how do you respond?

Ah yes, the classic “but it’s just entertainment” line is one of the most common defensive reactions to my Web show. My short answer is to quote the poet Muriel Rukeyser, who wrote, “The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” I love that line because it offers a succinct way of saying that culture matters, that stories matter. Narratives have always been a core way human beings learn about, make sense of, and understand the world we live in. Stories have embedded myths and messages and can be carriers of positive, heroic, or subversive values, but they can also propagate or reinforce negative stereotypes and oppressive social norms. Historically, the telling of stories has been an important and revered part of any society, and that is no different today. Popular media culture–for better or worse–is currently where the learning is happening, and that means that movies, TV, music, books, and video games are helping to shape our collective cultural universe.

I think part of the misunderstanding comes from a misperception about how culture works. It’s not a direct cause-and-effect situation where everybody just mindlessly copies the behaviors they see in the media. That said, media stories do have a profound effect on us, especially when messages, myths, and images are repeated over and over again. This is the reason why I choose to step back and look at the overarching patterns of how women are represented in video games over time. Because it’s this collective repetition that can seep into our minds and shape, perpetuate, and amplify harmful or regressive perceptions of women.

To put it another way, popular culture is like the air we all breathe. It’s in everyone’s interests to make sure that air is not polluted with poisonous sexism so that we don’t all end up with hideous misogynist mutations growing out of the back of our collective heads”.

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