Carbone, M.B., Ivănescu, A. 2020. ‘Games and Players’. In K. ROSS, I. BACHMANN, V. CARDO, S. MOORTI, M. SCARCELLI (EDS), The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication, WiLEY, doi:10.1002/9781119429128.iegmc015
The gender identities of players, the representations of video game characters, the state of diversity in the gaming industry, and the specific characteristics of the medium represent key issues for gender studies approaches to digital games. Looking at the history of representation of characters in digital games, the entry discusses the prevalence of heteronormative representations and dominance of cisgender, White, and male characters at the detriment of diversity, as well as tracing elements of change and inclusivity emerging in the game industries. Reporting about the Gamergate debacle as a backlash against emerging feminist critiques of gaming industries and cultures, the entry provides an account of players from a demographic perspective, tracing the prevalence of White, patriarchal heteronormativity to systemic issues of professional underrepresentation, and relating progressive views on gender identities in gaming to broader movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Outlining approaches to the study of games and gender from an interdisciplinary perspective, the entry underlines the specific affordances of the interactive medium for the trying and affirmation of gender identities, including character customization, embodiment, the simulacrum aspects of representation, and inclusiveness as an emergent property of design. The rise of gender analysis in games is highlighted as a timely and political issue that concerns matters of research as well as industry representation and advocacy, requiring both interdisciplinary and games‐specific approaches.