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02 JUNE 2015

A Game of One's Own: Towards a New Gendered Poetics of Digital Space

"In the opening pages of her classic essay, A Room of Ones Own, Virginia Woolf describes being blocked from entering the 'turf' of the University in Oxbridge by an administrative gate-keeper.

Instantly a man's figure rose to intercept me. … His face expressed horror and indignation. Instinct rather than reason came to my help, he was a Beadle; I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me' (Woolf, 1929).

This scene invokes the ways in which women have been systematically barred from the digital playground, both as players and as creators of play space. To a large extent, the video game industry in the U.S. remains dominated by a boys-only ethos that harkens back to the gender-biased practices in the British academia of Woolf's day.[1] Games that are female-friendly are often couched in derogatory or dismissive terms: The Sims (Maxis, 2000) is 'not really a game'; casual games are not counted as 'real' games by many in the industry.[2] The result is that certain types of games, game mechanics, play patterns, and, as we'll see, particular types of game spaces have tended to dominate the field of games.

Although this paper discusses the ways in which digital game spaces have been strongly gendered towards male constructions of space and play, this does not necessarily mean we advocate creating exclusively female (or 'pink') games. As Woolf points out in her essay, the solution is not simply to create a distinctly feminine voice (although this is one potential angle of approach), but rather to promote the cultivation of an 'androgynous mind', which, she suggests, is already possessed by male authors of great note throughout history (she cites Shakespeare as an example). We propose drawing from a number of cultural practices, literary sources, and existing games in order to pave the way for a playground that is more open to female players. Thus we promote not only the definition of new feminine game spaces, but also encourage designers to think in terms of 'androgynous space' that engages all aspects of all persons: a space into which women and girls are invited and welcomed, but in which men and boys can also enjoy more diverse and nuanced forms of play than are typically available to them."

(Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie and Celia Pearce, "A Game of One's Own: Towards a New Gendered Poetics of Digital Space", The Fibreculture Journal : 11)

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2008 • A Room of Ones Own (1929) • androgynous mind • androgynous space • boys-only ethos • British academia • casual gamesCelia Pearce • concepts of space • contested spaces • cultural practices • dangerous spaces • digital game spaces • digital playgrounddigital spacedolls house • domestic spaces • emotional space • enchanted worlds • female games • female players • female-friendly spaces • feminine conceptions of space • feminine game spaces • feminine voiceFibreculture Journal • game design as cultural practice • game mechanic • game spaces • games industrygames research • gender-biased practices • gendered spaces • gendered technology • gendered voices • gendering game space • Jacquelyn Ford Morie • male authors • male constructions of play • male constructions of space • MMOG • narrative spaces • nuanced forms of play • Oxbridge • pink games • play patterns • play spaces • poetics of digital space • procedural space • real games • regendered play space • regendering game space • secret places • social spacesThe Sims (2000) • Tracy Fullerton • video games industryVirginia Woolfvirtual spacesWilliam Shakespeare • women and games

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
05 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Largest Vocabulary in Hip hop

"Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare's vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever.

I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist's first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay–Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

35,000 words covers 3–5 studio albums and EPs. I included mixtapes if the artist was just short of the 35,000 words. Quite a few rappers don't have enough official material to be included (e.g., Biggie, Kendrick Lamar). As a benchmark, I included data points for Shakespeare and Herman Melville, using the same approach (35,000 words across several plays for Shakespeare, first 35,000 of Moby Dick).

I used a research methodology called token analysis to determine each artist's vocabulary. Each word is counted once, so pimps, pimp, pimping, and pimpin are four unique words. To avoid issues with apostrophes (e.g., pimpin' vs. pimpin), they're removed from the dataset. It still isn't perfect. Hip hop is full of slang that is hard to transcribe (e.g., shorty vs. shawty), compound words (e.g., king shit), featured vocalists, and repetitive choruses.

It's still directionally interesting. Of the 85 artists in the dataset, let's take a look at who is on top."

(Matt Daniels, May 2014)

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benchmark • big vocabulary • choice of words • corpus • cultural expressiondatasetdictiondigital humanitiesEnglish languageexpressive repertoireexpressive vocabulary • extensive vocabulary • Herman Melville • hip-hop • lexicomane • lyrics • Matt Daniels • Moby Dick • musicnaming • pimp • raprapperresearch method • sesquipedalian • slang • speaking vocabulary • token analysis • use of wordsvocabularyWilliam Shakespeareword heapwords

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 SEPTEMBER 2014

Umberto Eco: The Virtual Imagination

"But many internet programs suggest that a story is enriched by successive contributions. … This has sometimes happened in the past without disturbing authorship. With the Commedia dell'arte, every performance was different. We cannot identify a single work due to a single author. Another example is a jazz jam session. We may believe there is a privileged performance of 'Basin Street Blues' because a recording survives. But there were as many Basin Street Blues as there were performances. ... There are books that we cannot rewrite because their function is to teach us about Necessity, and only if they are respected as they are can they provide us with such wisdom. Their repressive lesson is indispensable to reach a higher state of intellectual and moral freedom."

(Umberto Eco, 7 November 2000)

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2000authorial signatureauthoritative workauthorship • Basin Street Blues • biographybooks • books-to-be-read • booksellersbookstoresCinderella • closed universe • Commedia dellarte • comprehending languagecomputers • copying machine • e-bookelectronic literatureencyclopaediaend of booksend of print • enriched by successive contributions • every performance is different • evolving formfairy talefatefolioFranz Kafkafuture of the book • god passed over • grammatical rulesheroeshypertexthypertext fiction • hypertextual programme • hypertextual structures • Immanuel Kant • infinite possibilities • infinite texts • intellectual freedom • intellectual needs • jazz jam session • Les Miserables • library catalogue • linear narrative • linearityLittle Red Riding Hoodmanuscripts • moral freedom • Napoleon Bonapartenatural language • necessity • new forms of literacy • obsolete form • open work • Penguin edition • photocopierprint on demand • printed books • printed version • privileged performance • publishing houses • publishing modelreaderly textsreading • reading process • revisionscanningselectionshift to digital • single author • specificity of print • systems and text • tailored consumer experience • texts which can be interpreted in infinite ways • theories of interpretation • tragic beauty • tragic literature • Umberto Eco • unlimited texts • utilitarian value • Victor Hugo • War and Peace • Waterloo • William Shakespeare

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 JULY 2014

The Adventure of English: the evolution of the English language

"The Adventure of English is a British television series (ITV) on the history of the English presented by Melvyn Bragg as well as a companion book, also written by Bragg. The series ran in 2003.

The series and the book are cast as an adventure story, or the biography of English as if it were a living being, covering the history of the language from its modest beginnings around 500 AD as a minor Germanic dialect to its rise as a truly established global language.

In the television series, Bragg explains the origins and spelling of many words based on the times in which they were introduced into the growing language that would eventually become modern English."

[Complete eight part series available on YouTube distributed by Maxwell's collection Pty Limited, Australia]

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2002 • A Dictionary of the English Language • American English • American Spelling Book • Anglo-SaxonArabicaristocracyAustraliaAustralian Aborigineauthoritative historyBible • Blue Backed Speller • British televisionCaribbean • Catherine of Aragon • Celtic language • Celts • Church of England • cockney rhyming slang • colonisationcommon languagecommunication • Convicts land • dialectdictionaryDutch • educated people • English languageEsperantoFrenchFrench languageFrisian • Frisian language • Gaelic • Germanic rootsgrammarGreek • Gullah language • Hebrew • Henry V of England • Henry VIII of England • historical eventshistoryhistory of ideas • History of the English language • history of useimmigrationIndiaindustrial revolutioninvasionIsaac NewtonITVJamaicanJane Austen • John Cheke • John WycliffeJonathan Swift • Joseph McCoy • Katherine Duncan-Jones • King James I • languagelanguage developmentLatin wordlinguisticsmedieval churchMelvyn Braggmini-series • modern English • Netherlands • Noah Webster • North America • Old English • peasant • Philip Sidne • pidgin • pronunciation • Queen Elizabeth I • Robert Burns • Rural Rides • Samuel JohnsonSanskritScotland • Scottish language • scripture • spelling • Squanto • television series • The Adventure of English (2002) • theologian • Thomas Sheridan • United Statesuse of wordsvikingvocabulary • Websters Dictionary • West Africa • William Cobbett • William Jones • William Shakespeare • William the Conqueror • William Tyndale • William Wordsworth • words

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 NOVEMBER 2011

Ophelia re-visited through vacant expressions and alienating surroundings

"In 1851–1852 John Everett Millais painted a canvas that would become his most famous work: Ophelia. This compelling picture of the tragic heroine of Shakespeare's Hamlet, floating in the water, has inspired artists for generations. Striking parallels to Millais's oeuvre are to be found in the work of contemporary photographers, such as Rineke Dijkstra, Hellen van Meene, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin. The influence of Ophelia is noticeable in the models' vacant expressions, the hushed atmosphere of the compositions and the alienating surroundings. ...

Ophelia is also referred to in film and pop music. For instance, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue based their music video where the wild roses grow on the painting by Millais. Another example is the cover picture of PJ Harvey's album To bring you my love."

(Van Gogh Museum)

Fig.1 Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue (1996). "Where the Wild Roses Grow".

Fig.2 PJ Harvey (1995). "Down By The Water".

Fig.3 John Everett Millais (1851–52). "Ophelia".

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alienating surroundings • artatmosphericattention to detailcompositiondeathfigurationfloatingHamlet • Hellen van Meene • Henry Tate Gift • homage • hushed atmosphere • Inez van Lamsweerde • influentialinspirationJohn Everett MillaisKylie Minogueluminositymusic video • Nick Cave • Ophelia • painting • PJ Harvey • pop music • Pre-Raphaelite • remixrevision • Rineke Dijkstra • serious subjects • significant subjects • To Bring You My Love • tragic death • tragic heroine • vacant expression • Vinoodh Matadin • water • Where the Wild Roses Grow • William Shakespeare

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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