Elisabeth (Betty) Hayes is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with joint appointments in the Departments of Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis. She brings to gaming research a background in adult education, specifically adult literacy education, gender studies, adult learning and diversity issues. Her current interests include the intersections of real-life and virtual identities and learning, learning in context of sports games such as Tony Hawk Underground; digital literacies and implications for the design of e-learning. She is the author or editor of numerous articles, chapters, and books, including Women as Learners (2000) and the Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education (2000). She has been on the faculties at Syracuse University and Rutgers University, and was an adult literacy teacher and teacher trainer. She currently spends part of every day (or night) as a Night Elf or Tauren in World of Warcraft.
Gendered Identities at Play
Gendered Identities at Play The apparent "gender divide' in video gaming has caught the attention of the gaming industry as well as educators, generating considerable and conflicting perspectives on its causes and consequences, as well as strategies to address it. Much effort as been directed towards the development of "girl games," a host of rather broad assertions about differences between girls and boys as gamers, and a considerable amount of ongoing disagreement about the value of both. I will argue that dominant assumptions about women's preferences and orientations towards video gaming do not reflect the diverse ways that women might make meaning of, respond to, and take pleasure in such games. These assumptions tend to be based on limited conceptions of the nature of gender and its manifestation in people's behaviors and self-perceptions. A further limitation of existing work on women and gaming is the tendency to isolate gender from other aspects of players' identities. To better understand women's * and men's * orientations towards gaming, we need to take into account the complexity of people's identities; not just gender alone, but its interplay with and enactment in combination with personal histories and cultural factors that play out differently in individual's lives. I will use case studies of two young adult women learning to play the same video game, to illustrate how gendered identities are significant yet enacted in different ways through their game play. The game is Morrowind: Elder Scrolls, a best-selling title that is quite open-ended and incorporates many elements that have been considered to be "cutting-edge" by both the video game industry experts as well as educators interested in the learning potential of video gaming. Because of its open-endedness and accommodation of a wide variety of potential gaming styles, Morrowind offers a particularly useful context for exploring how gender, as it intersects with other aspects of players' identities, might be manifested, challenged, and rewarded in the virtual world of a video game.
Romulus and Remus or Castor and Pollux: A Discourse on the Twinned Industries of Learning and Gaming
Students as Games