What makes someone a 'girl gamer'?

Ellen Rose / icklenellierose on YouTube

In her recent video project, Latoya Peterson explores the label "girl gamer". Meanwhile, Kevin Nguyen has a hypothesis about the "Jonathan Franzen of video games."

This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us the Jonathan Franzen of videogames, "girl gamers", and new books about games!

Fusion's Latoya Peterson begins her series "Girl Gamers" by exploring the conditions a person has to meet to earn the label.

Writing for The New Republic, Kevin Nguyen argues to grant famed Metal Gear Solid auteur Hideo Kojima the dubious honor of being the Jonathan Franzen of videogames.

Teddie at the always-excellent Fem Hype expresses frustration with the limited gender options in most character creation systems. For Teddie, establishing their hero's gender outside the constraints of a binary is necessary to feeling welcome in the experience.

But the fact that some games have trans-friendly character creation goes a long way. I don't need sweeping plotlines about my [original character]'s gender - I’m happy with just some basic representation. A game that doesn't assume my character fits neatly into the gender binary, a character creation screen that gives me the option not to buy into that. If I want to conform to the gender binary, let it be on my own terms.

I suspect that Alex Layne of the equally-excellent Not Your Mama's Gamer would agree, based on her own call for more complicated and comprehensive representation of human experiences

One of the reasons I started this blog along with Sam [Blackmon] was because I was sick of not being considered a consumer in the eyes of the people who make the games, not being considered a real gamer by the community, and not seeing the types of games I like (ones with strong female protagonists that aren't sexualized) being given enough shelf space.

Turning to analogue play, Jess Joho at Kill Screen pens a brief report of toy company Mattel, maker of Barbie and their new ad campaign boasting girls can "do anything." As Joho concludes,

More than just empowering young girls, though, the commercial tells of the importance of uninhibited play for all children. By demonstrating just how powerful a simple role-playing game can be, Mattel is not only saying that girls matter, but also that play matters...

Paste Magazine all-star Gita Jackson considers the formal storytelling of Crusader Kings, a famously complex historical simulator, describing its verisimilitude as unique in gaming's current landscape.

Jeffrey Matulef on Eurogamer offers compelling praise for the romance subplots of Life is Strange, the adventure game about a time-travelling teen, particularly the one involving the socially incompetent Warren.

We're so used to being Warren—strategizing what somebody wants to hear so that you can "win" a relationship—that we're seldom put in the other position of trying to minimize tension in an inherently tense situation.

Jed Pressgrove appears in Paste to discuss the silliness of most bloody videogames in comparison with a few examples that treat bloodletting with an appropriate gravitas

Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson have collected an all-star list of writers for a book of collected essays, The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture.

If your interests skew more to the social sciences, Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt have also edited a book of videogame essays called The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games.

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Photo: ELLEN ROSE / ICKLENELLIEROSE ON YOUTUBE