NOV 15th: 2 Article Analysis

I analyzed the similarities and differences between Coming of Age in Second Life, a book written by anthropologist, Tom Boellstorff, and an article written by Elizabeth Hayes titled, The Sims as a Catalyst for Girls’ IT Learning. Both of the these pieces reflect on studies designed to further understanding on differentiated gender usage of games such as Second Life and The Sims.

The most striking similarity I noticed was that Boellstorff focused primarily on the ability for people to remain anonymous and even explore transgender experiences through these forums and games. He writes, “For some residents like Pavia, Second Life provided an opportunity to reflect upon and transform their actual-world gender. For others, the mutability of virtual gender allowed for forms of play specific to the online world, as evinced by event advertisements like the following: “Pick just that perfect outfit, and you may win $250 for Best Female as A Male, or $250 for Best Male as a Female!”

Ultimately, Boellstorff argues that these games allow for internal construction of real-world gender stereotypes but permit multiple discourse development that can be attended by any avatar. The avatars will not be discouraged from taking part in certain discourses due to gender stereotyping because it is so common for people to choose avatars that are not of the same sex as themselves. Subsequently, females are not alienated within the forum by gender biased game design.

The second article written by Hayes presents case studies in which guided development of young women through the SIMS and Teen Second Life helped foster a relationship with technology that grew into a broader literacy of mediated environments. Each week, the girls would be instructed to play and explore within the games, progressively presented with more involved tasks. After nine months of familiarization, the girls began creating original content within the games and on outside forums. Eventually, a couple of young women became confident and comfortable using computers.

This article claims that Second Life and the SIMs were actually made with a female psyche in mind, concentrating more on interactions and relationships between players than on goals, battles, and levels. If games that were formatted like these two examples were used in education, there might be less of a gender divide with digital media because it is an open playing field for male camaraderie and female interaction.

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Citations:

Boellstorff, Tom. "Gender and Race." Coming of Age in Second Life. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2008. 138-47. Print.

Hayes, Elisabeth. "Sims as a Catalyst for Girls' IT Learning." The International Journal for Games, Science, and Technology// (2011). Web.