Video Games and Genders
Video games also transmit and contribute to the creation and diffusion of non-egalitarian social models; just devote a little time to this form of amusement and observe that both its industry and its public is mostly masculine: from the physical typology shown, the types of behaviour and information transmitted, the language used, the way to resolve conflicts or problems which arise, the environment reflected is related to traditional male stereotypes. And that is where some initiatives have arisen in order to use the medium of video game in a constructive way, in order to create guidelines to eliminate problems of discrimination and sexism.
If we consider that video games have become a form of leisure for the majority of young people, we can also talk about applications that have been designed in order to transmit another type of language, another form of relationships between genders, i.e., using the medium to build another reality, not to perpetuate negative and outdated stereotypes in this area. Some examples will be mentioned that serve as an introduction to this broad topic.
Firstly reference will be made to the X-Igual initiative, which emerged from the Fundación Pere Tarrés as an educational program for secondary schools in order to promote equal opportunities and prevent gender-based violence among young people. On their website, video games are analysed from a gender perspective, regarding their protagonists, the values they transmit, etc. and thought-provoking information is compiled for the educational sector, the family or users of this type of entertainment.
Noteworthy is the video game 'Gazteak Berdintasunean 2.0' (whose literal meaning is 'Young People as Equals 2.0') created as a classroom tool for working with young people.
The specific objectives of this application include, prevention of gender-based violence, raising boys' awareness about equality, non-violent resolution of interpersonal conflicts, as well as proposing alternative masculinity models. This is a 'graphic adventure' aimed at young people between 14 and 18 years of age. Classroom materials are available for teachers to use alongside students. One of the issues underlying the design of video games is that gender learning is one of the lessons transmitted from a very early stage by the family, at school and by society in general, i.e., we are not born boys or girls but are being taught from the moment we come into the world. Furthermore, in this process of socialization, consequences that unconsciously lead to sexist and discriminatory attitudes are being carried along. And it is here that 'Gazteak Berdintasunean 2.0' comes into play. In an entertaining and visual way, the video game goes through traditional male and female behaviour to try and promote social change in favour of equality between women and men. The situations proposed are wide-ranging: the game begins by creating an avatar, starting from the choice of physical characteristics, and goes on to carry out the usual household tasks, the resolution of some conflicts based as a result of homophobia within the classroom, which needs to be answered, reading news about male-based violence, ordinary situations that occur in places such as the gym, bar, etc. A complete journey into the life of someone with a critical perspective which analyses accepted micro-discriminations but which should be banished so that human relationships are healthy and constructive.
As can be seen, the purpose is to achieve a more just and liveable society, where gender-equality behaviour is a daily occurrence and not the result of a conscientious effort.
This educational resource was created by Emakunde, the Basque Institute for Women, as part of a larger program called Gizonduz and is available at the addresses below.
To end this short explanation reference to the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system is necessary: this system uses age ratings for computer games and video games in Europe. Any application can be consulted on its website, and although it does not offer information on gender, it is possible to ascertain the target audience, for example, because of the use of violence: http://www.pegi.info/en/index/id/521
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Centro Coordinador de Información y Documentación Juvenil de Euskadi