Invaders Videogame Feminism; Level One – Boy Culture

Videogames were first introduced during the 1970’s and quickly became the most popular entertainment media, they represent modern visual culture and directly reflect issues within society. Since their creation videogames have been stigmatised with the male gender. Marketed towards males and their stereotypical interests and desires through ad campaigns, resulting in the exclusion of females and domination of males in game culture. Male branding ignited gender disputes within the gaming community, with feminists at the forefront of addressing these issues.

Videogames have always been a male domain, initially marketed and promoted towards straight men. Figure 1 depicts the ad campaign for the first arcade game, Computer Space (Nutting Associates, 1971), with actress Tina Louise wearing lingerie and a sheer nightdress, she represents the object of desire and reinforces that arcade games were designed for the pleasure of straight males. When home videogame consoles were introduced in the 1980s videogames were inherently masculine, this period has been referred to as ‘boy-culture’. It dictated videogames, resulting in games being made and marketed for boys by men.

Figure 1. Computer Space, Tina Louise ad campaign. Nutting Associates, 1971.

Initial marketing strategies for games were gendered, and heavily advertised towards males and stereotypical boy styles of play, interests and desires. This gendered game marketing was still prevalent in 2013, when Sony bought the infamous Page 3 from The Sun to promote their new console (figure 2). It is particularly problematic due to its use of ‘players’, purposely un-acknowledging females both Rosie, 22 from Middlesex and the female gamers, who inherently are not represented by desired audience for this ad campaign. Reinforcing straight males as real players.

Figure 2. PlayStation ad campaign on Page 3 of The Sun. “Apologies to Rosie, 22 from Middlesex. Today’s Page 3 is for the Players. Out today PS4”. Sony, 2013.

“Videogames have always been identified with masculinity and the stereotype of the videogame player as a young male endures.” (Griffiths et al. 2003)