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Playing With Gender: Video Games and Social Identity

Monday, May 18–Friday, June 12, 2020

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SUMMER 2020 ONLINE CLASS Playing With Gender: Video Games and Social Identity (GSW 132) Instructor: Patrick Sullivan ( and Byron Fong (
A1 May 18 – June 12 MTWTH 13:00 - 16:00
"“Playing with Gender” takes a two-pronged approach to teaching issues of gender and sexuality in video games. First, we learn about and discuss ongoing debates in feminism and queer theory as the basis to critique mainstream video games. In what is now the most lucrative medium, women and LGBTQI+ identities are historically underrepresented or represented in problematic ways. This portion of the class teaches how playing games can be mobilized into a mode of cultural critique. Second, with the rise of digital distribution and independently developed games, previous forms of gatekeeping are less strong. Independent video games have given rise to an alternative canon of games that deal with issues of gender and sexuality by simultaneously challenging the very form of gaming (beyond creating a female protagonist in a traditionally male role). Students will keep a weekly gaming journal, write a piece of video game criticism, and produce a final project.