Lrn2Play Noob: Progressive Masculinity in Games

Curator's Note

The assumption that games strictly adhere to dominant forms of masculinity has been accepted, for the most part, as a given. While it is obvious that many games do rely heavily on dominant masculinities, it would be a mistake to assume players simply accept what is suggested to them. I have found that machinima is one of the best platforms from which to study subversive forms of gameplay. While much of machinima is merely re-cut game film that serves a promotional and boastful platform for player skill, some players are also using it to disrupt, satirize, and expose the rather restrictive cultural conventions of video games. The video I have selected, “World of Warcraft - Patrice of Valor (WoW),” is an example of such a performance. This video, as Patrice tells us in his narration, is his way of showing everyone how he plays the game. The very fact it needs to be shown speaks to the nature of this kind of player activity as excessive and lacking visibility, yet nonetheless constitutive of the dominant masculine player base which relies on “noobs” like Patrice to affirm their playstyle’s superiority. I find this video and its accompanying YouTube discussion (which I recommend reading) to be thought provoking. It exposes the rather narrow conceptualization drawn thus far by the media, public, and academia as to how players engage with games, as well as the vicious burden of masculinity in the game world. I think it also demonstrates the fascinating potentiality for machinima to illustrate the complicated nature of gameplay as not a fixed experience but infinitely multiple.

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