From Barbie® to Mortal Kombat

Gender and Computer Games

Many parents worry about the influence of video games on their children's lives. The game console may help to prepare children for participation in the digital world, but at the same time it socializes boys into misogyny and excludes girls from all but the most objectified positions. The new "girls' games" movement has addressed these concerns. Although many people associate video games mainly with boys, the girls games' movement has emerged from an unusual alliance between feminist activists (who want to change the "gendering" of digital technology) and industry leaders (who want to create a girls' market for their games).

The contributors to From Barbie® to Mortal Kombat explore how assumptions about gender, games, and technology shape the design, development, and marketing of games as industry seeks to build the girl market. They describe and analyze the games currently on the market and propose tactical approaches for avoiding the stereotypes that dominate most toy store aisles. The lively mix of perspectives and voices includes those of media and technology scholars, educators, psychologists, developers of today's leading games, industry insiders, and girl gamers.

Contributors: Aurora, Dorothy Bennett, Stephanie Bergman, Cornelia Brunner, Mary Bryson, Lee McEnany Caraher, Justine Cassell, Suzanne de Castell, Nikki Douglas, Theresa Duncan, Monica Gesue, Michelle Goulet, Patricia Greenfield, Margaret Honey, Henry Jenkins, Cal Jones, Yasmin Kafai, Heather Kelley, Marsha Kinder, Brenda Laurel, Nancie Martin, Aliza Sherman, Kaveri Subrahmanyam.

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. About the Authors
  3. 1. Chess for Girls? Feminism and Computer Games

    Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins

  4. 2. Computer Games for Girls: What Makes Them Play?

    Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia M. Greenfield

  5. 3. Girl Games and Technological Desire

    Cornelia Brunner, Dorothy Bennett, and Margaret Honey

  6. 4. Video Game Designs by Girls and Boys: Variability and Consistency of Gender Differences

    Yasmin B. Kafai

  7. 5. An Interview with Brenda Laurel (Purple Moon)
  8. 6. An Interview with Nancie S. Martin (Mattel)
  9. 7. An Interview with Heather Kelley (Girl Games)
  10. 8. Interviews with Theresa Duncan and Monica Gesue (Chop Suey)
  11. 9. An Interview with Lee McEnany Caraher (Sega)
  12. 10. An Interview with Marsha Kinder (Intertexts Multimedia)
  13. 11. Retooling Play: Dystopia, Dysphoria, and Difference

    Suzanne de Castell and Mary Bryson

  14. 12. Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces

    Henry Jenkins

  15. 13. Storytelling as a Nexus of Change in the Relationship between Gender and Technology: A Feminist Approach to Software Design

    Justine Cassell

  16. 14. Voices from the Combat Zone: Game Grrlz Talk Back
  17. Index
  18. Color Insert