PLAY LIKE A FEMINIST is available through MIT Press or your favorite independent bookseller.

MIT Press - Play like a Feminist. by Shira Chess (2020)

“You play like a girl”: it’s meant to be an insult, accusing a player of subpar, un-fun playing. If you’re a girl, and you grow up, do you “play like a woman”—whatever that means? What does it mean to play like feminists? Playing like a feminist is empowering and disruptive; it exceeds the boundaries of gender yet still advocates for gender equality. Playing like a feminist offers a new way to think about how humans play —and also a new way to think about how feminists do their feministing.

And what of video games, that contested space that has wrought so much sexism, havoc, and unnecessary discord? Feminism needs video games as much as video games need feminism. Video games are primed for change. Roughly half of all players identify as female, and Gamergate galvanized many of gaming’s disenfranchised voices. Games themselves are in need of a creative platform-expanding, metaphysical explosion; feminism can make games better.

We need to spend more time playing as a tool of radical disruption.

Play like a Feminist. is a crucial contribution to conversations around gaming, power, and labor. Chess shows us all the importance of reclaiming games as a feminist act and provides a blueprint for how feminists of all ages can approach them in new and joyful ways.”

Adrienne Shaw
Associate Professor, Temple University, and author of Gaming at the Edge

“This book is a hopeful and upbeat foray into the intersection of feminism and games, with an activist bent. I love the idea of Gaming Circles—as a games researcher who has spent a lifetime ‘playing like a girl,’ I may take Chess up on the suggestion of circling up more people in my life outside the narrow bounds of ‘gamer’ toward a richer and more diverse dialog around this important cultural form.”

Katherine Isbister
Professor of Computational Media, School of Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz; author of How Games Move Us; Founding Fellow, Higher Education Video Game Alliance

Medusa and Athena art created by Alex Camlin. See more of his work at Alex Camlin / Design.

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