Henry Jenkins and Justine CassellEdit

From Barbie to Mortal Kombat:Gender and Computer Games [1998]Edit

In this first edited collection on gender and video games, Jenkins and Cassell offer a sturdily useful (although perhaps undertheorized--all forms of theoretical feminism are simply labelled "academic" and are barely engaged with) examination of gender and gaming. The audience is seems tilted toward those working in the video game industry (either scholastically, or professionally), or for those who simply seek further information (there is an occassional direct address to the reader as a concerned parent), as well as educators and social scientists. The treatment of feminism is light; the editors argue that their book is feminist because it is interest in 1. representation of women and 2. equity between boys and girls.

The book makes laudable efforts to destabilize gender as a concrete or essentialist category, even though they defer the strength of this argument until later in the introduction, lamenting that it is often impossible to do market research that doesn't reproduce deeply entrenched ideologies of male vs. female play. The editors criticize those "academic feminists" who think practical work with the game industry is unseemly, suggesting instead that it is the academic's job to engage in such ideologically impure activities.

The incredibly useful side to this book is its close documentation of what the editors term "entreprenuerial feminism", the phenomenon of many upstart companies being run and staffed by women (no doubt reflecting the rise of married women into the marketplace, as documented in From Working Girl to Working Mother--such companies can be particularly accomodating of the particular needs of married and parenting workers).