September 7, 2015

Mechademia conference: “Gaming/Gender”

Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Mechademia: Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, 2014. Courtesy of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Special guest: Brianna Wu

The recent rash of death threats toward feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, following her polemic on the violence toward women in video games, has focused attention on what has always been “accepted” as a given: that video games are made by males for males.

In the crosshairs of a narrowed, constructed male gaze, representations of women have indeed been predominately the sexualized subjects of extreme violence in gaming—despite the fact that women also play video games, write about video games, and even create video games.

An article in The Guardian from September 17, 2014 stated, “While ‘hardcore’ gaming is clearly still rooted in its traditional user base (playing games is considered the most entertaining media amongst males aged 16–24), what the study shows is a widening audience who are exploring games through new platforms.” In spite of their massively misogynist aspects, many women not only play these hardcore video games—they enjoy them.

We question how to address these problems, which include not just the rampant misogyny, but also the broader abuses that can underlie the misogyny: those societal issues of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexualities.

This conferences asks the following:

– Women’s depictions are not always strictly about sex and violence—but as those are significant factors, how should women be portrayed in games–particularly action/war games?
– Is gaming exclusively a “man’s world”? Is the only role for women that of over-sexualized, highly “consumable” victims?
– Do videogames, anime, and manga simply reinforce negative gender, ethnic, class, and racial stereotypes, or is there a possibility for critique embedded in the games or cultures that produce and consume them?

These topics represent only a few of the broad concerns about gender and gaming currently in the news.

Mechademia invites scholars, fans, and creators to consider the situation and respond with presentations as we expand the discursive field against the vast mediated (dis)information found on the web. We welcome both in-person presentations at the conference as well as remote presentations for those unable to make it to Minneapolis.

Teachers: Mechademia includes an Emerging Scholars Panel for the participation of advanced undergraduate students. Those who are interested should send 250-word proposals to [email protected] by September 11, 2015.


Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures is a unique, internationally recognized offering of lectures, screenings, and community discussions about anime, manga, and gaming that takes place annually at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. The conference also features the popular annual fashion show Full Fashion Panic—a part of Minnesota Fashion Week—which showcases emerging fashion designers who are influenced by popular culture.

Since its inception in 2001, Mechademia has become a center for discussion of the cultural study, creation, aesthetics, theory, as well as the global fascination and wonder of the remarkably broad range of objects and practices that have developed around the global proliferation of Japanese manga and anime. It was also the birthplace of the now internationally praised “Mechademia” book series (Vols. 1–10) published by the University of Minnesota Press.


Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures

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