Designed with Christina Webb
Within many video games, violence has been and will continue to be a major theme. Within this representational violence there is a deeper, more aggressive cultural undertone pointed toward our treatment and perception of women, not only within the game space but also in reality. Women consistently become what feminist researcher Anita Sarkeesian calls, “background decoration”, in that many times they are in these game spaces as objects for the player to interact with as they please, but they are not adding any valuable substance to the main narrative, and sometimes these “side stories” or “side adventures” are highly violent or sexually charged.
Christina Webb and I created a program that explores the portrayal of woman in these games along with the charged internet conversations around this topic. The program takes a user through a scene in Grand Theft Auto 5 where the main character is killing a prostitute. As the users presses the right button on the controller, the video advances and the narrative plays out. Each time the frames advance a hateful tweet from someone in favor of this brutality against women appears. If the user presses the left button the video stops playing and becomes smaller pushing the violence away. This action is accompanied by a tweet that is supportive of women being treated fairly within the game space.