Killing Time in Diner Dash: Representation, Gender, and Casual Games [Abstract]

Soderman Braxton
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

In the ongoing debates concerning the emergence of game studies, ludologist approaches often dismiss or marginalize narrative and visual elements of games while privileging games as formal systems of rules and game play mechanics. Indeed, the visual representation of games is frequently gendered—for example, when Espen Aarseth dismisses the visual importance of Lara Croft or when Chris Crawford refers to graphics as “cosmetics.” This discourse inevitably reinscribes stereotypical gender formations where the “hardcore,” abstract, formal, mathematical systems privileged by these approaches to games are masculinized while the “casual,” material, visual content, and non-essential aspects of games are feminized. This gendered distinction seems eerily similar to the recent fears and anxieties expressed by the hardcore gamer community over the rise of casual games which can be linked to a distinctive gendering of the hardcore as masculine and the casual as feminine. Thus, this paper will analyze the hardcore “fetish” (in gaming and in game studies), attempting to expose the gender dynamics that structure and subtend the distinctions between the hardcore and the casual.