I’m posting this call for proposals here so that it can easily be found and revisited. If you see it and are interested, please feel free to submit a proposal.
Call for Papers: “Technological Futures” at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference (November 13-16, 2014 in Puerto Rico)
Abstracts due 2/1/2014
The relationship between feminism and technology is a fraught one, whether we are discussing the dearth of women in technology-related fields, the treatment of women in online forums, or the representation of women in video games. A series of recent events have drawn both critical and media attention to the persistence of misogyny in and around video gaming: the online harassment of Anita Sarkeesian for her “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” feminist video series; the public backlash against the appointment of Julie Larson-Green as head of Microsoft’s XBox division;protests mounted against female game developers Jennifer Hepler and Dina Abou Karam (among others); and the hypersexualized digital representations of female characters and avatars in popular games like World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto. These examples all reflect the extent to which a highly vocal segment within the gaming community has been resistant not only to feminist analysis and criticism, but to the presence of women – both real and digital – within that community.
Whether a cause or a product of this vocal resistance, women are under- and often mis-represented both in the industry and in games themselves. While women make up approximately 45% of the consumer gaming market and 70% of women aged 12 to 24 play video games according to Entertainment Software Association, they represent only 11% of designers and only 3% of programmers in the game industry. Despite the significant presence of female consumers, however, only 15% of video game characters are female, and even fewer are protagonists.
Drawing on NWSA conference sub-theme “Technologizing Futures,” this session invites papers focused on the role of women in video games and the gaming community more broadly. We welcome papers from a range of disciplines that analyze the role of women (and/or trans*women) in games and gaming culture, including both humanities and social science methodologies. Potential topics for analysis might include, but are not limited to:
*analysis of the relationship between individual games and the institutionalized (and often unintentional) misogynist culture of the industry
*critical challenges to the culture of video game misogyny, including online activism
*feminist narrative and/or ludic analysis of individual video games
*feminist interventions in and alternatives to mainstream gaming culture
*narrative and/or ludic analysis of recent feminist “indie” games and production companies
*intersectionality and gaming culture, including resistance to marginalized identities and/or the development of intersectional “indie” games (such as Dys4ia)
*feminist pedagogy and the place of video games in the women’s studies classroom
Please send a one page abstract accompanied by a 100 word truncated abstract (an NWSA requirement) to both Dr. Kristin Bezio (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Jennifer L. Airey (email@example.com) by February 1, 2014. Each panelist will speak for approximately 15 minutes with time for Q&A after the fact.