SORTING OUT THE GRRLS FROM THE BOYS

Issue date: 14 November 2003


ISSUE DATE: 14/11/03

UWE at ‘GameCUBE’

Researchers from the University of the West of England have been instrumental in setting a series of Computer Games nights at the CUBE cinema, Kings Square, Bristol.

Dr Mark Paterson from UWE’s School of Culture and Media Studies (CMS) explains. “The GameCUBE’ nights celebrate the connections between film media and videogames. It is partly a club night but also a multimedia event showcasing new creative electronic media in the arts. We show experimental films and feature documentaries made in this area. People also get the chance to play games on a huge cinema screen. The organisation of the night is heavily UWE based.”

The GameCUBE series kicked off in September with an introduction to Machinima, a technique where videogame engines are used to create animations and experimental films. Using videogame engines this can be done cheaply by almost anyone to create story lines, lighting, characters and produce dialogue. UWE student James ‘eVOLVE’ Hamer-Morton (Politics and Drama) is one of the main figures in the machinima scene in the UK, and he gave a talk and showed some of his films.

GameCUBE2 on 1 December will be ‘Game Grrl’ (sic) night with game girls playing online and a documentary on phallic shooters and ‘Game Grrls’. This will feature Helen Kennedy whose research involves the way girls play computer games. Helen will discuss what happens to gender identity on-line and how the perceived masculine identity of games and gamers might alter the way girl gamers play. Along with documentary film, live game play and discussions, the feature film Lara Croft – Tomb Raider involving girls and computer games will also be shown

Helen Kennedy said, “The Games industry has tended to (and largely failed to) try to attract female gamers through the ‘pinking’ of games by designing games that look girly and deal with appropriately feminine topics or issues. However my research is focussed on those grrl gamers who take a particular pleasure in playing games seen as definitely ‘for boys’ – particularly multiplayer online first person shooters.”

The third GameCUBE night on Monday 26 January 2004 will take on a Child’s Play theme. The celebrations of childhood gaming and cutesy animation, and an investigation into the relations between playing and reality (after developmental psychologists Derek Winnicott’s famous book). This will feature a documentary by Seth Giddings, whose research involves looking at these issues of playing in new media.

Seth Giddings said, “Videogames, whether aimed at children or adults, are both media objects and toys. They draw on images of established commercial interests: marketing, licensing and spinoffs from television, cinema and the toy industry. Yet they also facilitate the unpredictable, creativity of play. Assumptions that videogame play is sterile, unimaginative, perhaps even destructive of any sense of distinction between fantasy and reality can be challenged. Through the study and playing of games, and the observation of children (or adults) playing them, we can see new relationships between play and reality being established.”

-ENDS-

Editor’s notes

Jpeg images available on request

Mark Paterson, Helen Kennedy and Seth Giddings are lecturers and researchers in UWE’s School of Cultural Studies (CMS).

For more information about GameCUBE please see www.cubecinema.com

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