Hi, I'm Heather, long time gamer and virtual backseat driver. I recently finished my MA in Cinema Studies from NYU and now I want to harvest my powers to ponder the deeper (and also shallow) meanings of video games. You can also see my writing on Gamastura, Girl Gamer Vogue, and Medium Difficulty.
Gender in videogames is becoming a hot topic, but usually focuses on the many things the game industry does wrong concerning the female gamer perspective. The “Lara Croft” conundrum consists of a bevy of scantily clad pieces of eye candy as the main representation of women characters in video games and how that’s not really doing it for us. In the past I always kind of wrote all that off as a necessary evil of video games and did my best to enjoy what was there. During a discussion on gender in a Video Game Theory class I recently took at NYU, I found myself adamantly defending my experience playing as Female Shepard in the Mass Effect series. Being able to play as a female hero who was equal to her male counterpart (and fully clothed!) affected me much more than I had realized. I have always been a big fan of JRPGs and the experience of playing through a long, story-driven commitment that binds you to the characters in a special way no matter who you are, but being able to create this (albeit somewhat limited) representation of myself and play through this journey where your personal choices shape the game was, for me, a fascinating, fun and empowering experience.