Week 3: Summary of Lisa Nakamura, "Queer Female Gamer of Color"
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  • I loved Nakamura's essay, but wondered whether her reading of Aisha Tyler's hosting gig at E3 de facto rendered her gender and race as "queer" challenges to the de facto lowest difficulty setting of white geek masculinity. This article made me realize that gamers are not inherently a part of the increasingly visible black nerd culture: http://weblog.liberatormagazine.com/2008/07/black-nerds.html. I guess there is a difference between geeks and nerds after all, though I would have been tempted to put Ms. yoer in the nerd camp of things prior to reading Nakamura's essay. I wonder what she would say the relative level of difficulty would be for Asian American males in the context of gaming, given her AAST expertise.
  • I too questioned whether or not Tyler's ethnicity and gender posed a challenge to the lower difficulty setting. By offering an example of Aisha Tyler Nakamura only demonstrated the extent of the 'white spatial imaginary'  when entered by someone who is assumed to be outside it. And yes, I think there is a difference between nerd and geeks. For one thing, you don't need to be 'smart' to be a geek.

    Thanks for the article, @VivianHalloran. I think it's interesting that the writer does not see that for young Black men, popularity really means accruing aspects of idealised (hegemonic if you will) masculinity - the hair, clothes, the car. Nerd masculinity for Black men is at best undesirable, at worst comical (think Urkel).

    Here's an interesting thought that wasn't really discussed in Nakamura's article: how do straight white men negotiate gaming characters who are not straight, white, or male? I found this article about whiteness in gaming culture and playing East Asian characters (ninja, Shadow warrior etc). It doesn't stop racism or sexism in gaming culture of course, but if games themselves were less sexist or racist then we might see something positive for engaging with race in gaming.


  • If anyone is interested in the master-slave narrative (not sure how many in here have read much of Lacan) from a technological and technical perspective, which may also serve some of the metaphors being generated here, I suggest reading Prof Ron Eglash'S cool piece "Broken Metaphor: the Master-Slave Analogy in Technical Literature" (http://www.historyoftechnology.org/eTC/v48no2/eglash.html). Having had the good fortune to have engaged in conversations with him about his work in relation to mine,  his work represents for me the epitome of discursive, postcolonial (and transcendental postcolonial), active (in terms of also real action) engagement with the connection between technology, cross-culturalism, and the privileging and the marginalization of technological and scientific systems (and therefore, other knowledge logics) of non-western cultures. In reading Nakamura's piece, I think her larger argument, beyond the gaming metaphor, connects with his metaphor on engineering practices.

    Also, speaking about straight white men (or any other straight men) negotiating role-playing characters in gaming, I remember having participated in a BBS board game, as a teenager, where you can choose and even change the sex of the character you take on each time. It is quite interesting to see that otherwise straight adolescent boys who are undergoing that period of their lives where the desire is to exert their masculinity, be willing to take on feminine roles, sometimes, in tandem with the female player's masculine role-play. But at the same time, this engages also with the larger question of sex and sexuality, not in terms of whether that person identifies as straight or queer, but if that person imagines him/herself to inhabit an imaginary space WHERE that masculinity itself does not have the same rootedness and inviolability as when he inhabits meat space. Or maybe, it is just part of an adolescent (or adult male) sexual fantasy, not unlike straight men who engage in occasional cross-dressing.
  • Thanks for sharing the article, @clarissalee. It is quite disconcerting that "the more [the master-slave metaphor] was used in engineering, the more it had an engineering-like sound to it—a kind of meme or slow-moving fad". Unfortunately, as you might've shared with me in another conversation elsewhere, a postcolonial critique of science and technology occurs outside the dominant heart of science and technology - the hard and applied sciences. There is SO MUCH important critique of a range of disciplines get that a free pass simply because it is based on SCIENCE. Like ethics, how would you suggest a postcolonial/feminist critique of science be best inserted into the practice of 'hard' science, technology, computing, and technology?

    Unfortunately, 'heroic' female characters in video games are very few and the few are highly eroticised for the male gaze, so I am suspicious that straight male gamers playing female roles involves any challenging of stereotypical gender roles.

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