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"Gaming is actually a fun universe... Gaming could be pure happiness, but unfortunately not if you're a Black woman."

So reports Jennifer Lufau, and she wants to change that with her initiative Afrogameuse.

Lifeworld and gaming world

The number of female gamers is steadily increasing worldwide. Female gamers now make up half of game enthusiasts, according to national and global studies. However, this is not reflected in the number and quality of female game characters: the world in games is predominantly white, young, masculine, and heterosexual ( techtalk.currys.co.uk). The reality of life of other ethnicities, age groups, sexual orientation or with disabilities is still too rarely told . A similar picture can be found in the statistics on employees in the game produikon: almost three-quarters of them are Caucasian-European, while POCs, for example, make up only one percent (amt-lab.org). The situation is similar for the sexual orientation and identity of employees: 75 percent define themselves as male in the gaming industry (polygon.com).

But there are first signs that this is changing. Often it is small game companies, so-called indie productions, that are experimenting with new characters: For example, Nodding Heads Games (India) released a game in 2020 in which a girl must rescue her kidnapped brother, Raji: An Ancient Epic (USK 6).

Major game companies, such as Dutch developer studio Guerrilla Games, are also breaking new ground: In the 2020 action role-playing game Horizon: Zero Dawn (USK 12), the heroine Aloy is a convincingly strong female character that even game critics can easily empathize with. The heroine grows up in a matriarchy. Aloy's life is shaped by this circumstance, because the identity of her so important mother is not only a mystery for the player, but also for Aloy herself. The game features other interesting female characters and multi-layered male characters of various shades. However, the game has some explicit fight scenes, which is why it is only recommended for ages 14 and up by the NRW gaming guide.

Play, learn, try out

Computer games are now recognized as a cultural asset and are considered an important guiding medium when it comes to education and entertainment. When introducing children to games, adults should pay attention to how genderfair and diverse the games are.

Important questions might be:

  • How uniformly do female and male characters appear and behave?
  • Are the female characters game pieces or do they function more as tools or even rewards?
  • Are male characters allowed to be vulnerable and show weakness?
  • How complex are the backgrounds and experiences of the individual characters?
  • What societal ideals of beauty are portrayed and/or are they possibly heavily exaggerated?
  • Do other ethnicities appear in the play? What roles do they play?
  • From whom do action initiatives and interactions originate?
  • What tasks and challenges do female and male characters have and how do they each advance the game?
  • Are well-worn game narratives used, such as the damsel in distress or the virgin escort mission?

Creating equal-opportunity living and learning spaces

Playing together, exchanging ideas and discussing play experiences and experiences with characters in an open atmosphere helps children to critically examine circumstances in play. Gender-fair games, for example, can provide impulses for equal-opportunity child development. This is because role assignments not only affect preferences for colors and clothing, but also learning motivations and goals, skills and educational content.

Gender-fair games succeed in opening up access to digital media for girls and boys alike and provide a mixture of games, fun and learning opportunities that overcome role conventions. If these computer games are to be included in media education, the aim should be to create an atmosphere that supports children in processing their media impressions.

  • Gender-fair lifeworlds and learning spaces enable girls and boys to select computer games that tie in with their individual experiences and interests.
  • Gender-fair living environments and learning spaces offer a variety of opportunities for playful exploration of gender roles, for testing behaviors, and for reflecting on children's role experiences.
  • Gender-fair lifeworlds and learning spaces encourage children to value individual developments, interests, abilities and inclinations - in themselves as well as in others.

Today's gaming world is a very active and communicative world in which many game players can contribute their experiences and desires. An English study of children who play computer games shows that interactivity and participation in particular motivate children to learn: 60 percent of young people who play video games write something about their gaming experience or give advice every month. In this way, they develop reading skills, strategic thinking, empathy and collegiality through play.

Afro |gam | euse is a French-English neologism in feminine form.

This is exactly where Jennifer Lufau wants to start with her initiative: She wants to encourage more Black girls and women to enter the game industry professionally, in the hope that more diversity in the game development workspace will create more diverse characters and narratives in the future. This would be desirable for other marginalized groups as well.

Read more in the dossier "Gaming".
/mediabase/img/4038.jpg Computer games are an integral part of our everyday life today. They have become an important defining medium. Digital games
/mediabase/img/cache/5385_740x740.jpg "I hated my son's computer," writes Brigitte columnist Julia Karnicke in her blog. The columnist is certainly not alone in this statement. Let's play safe

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