Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Dungeons and Dreamers
Anyway, while waiting for my daughter in Ulsteinvik, I was reading Dungeons and Dreamers, which, incidentally, is also a blog - an other multi-blogger blog on games and culture.

I haven't finished more than half of the book, and while it's entertaining to read of the hip, cool entrepreneurs fighting the good battle in order to bring us the delightful games we study today, a little bell started to ring somewhere around the very casual treatment of Roberta Williams.

Where are the women? Yes, I know, this is a men's world, and we are barely permitted to play. (Well, ok, we may if we make topless skins for our avatars. ) But the book mentions women, like tantalising, intriguing spice. Who was, for instance, the woman holding the joystick while the men crouched around her in a darkened room? "Like cavemen" the book claims - and yes, the treatment of females like convenient objects along the way is quite reminiscent of a stone-age approach to history. What about the poor wife of Robert Garriott? We hear all about how she forces them all to move to New England and endure the horrors of winter and the cultural shock of living among people who keep tidy front yards, but when it comes to Robert Garriott risking his money and spending his time assisting his brother, Richard, we hear nothing about the security it must have given him to be married to a woman with an independent, successful career.

The mother of our heroes is mentioned frequently, though. Her role is developing and supporting the creativity of the young genius Richard, she moves her art out of the garage in order to accomodate the role-play interests of her son, and later on she moves again, to make space for the company. She makes dinners and bakes cakes, and behaves like a good mother should, in a story of male heroes.

OK, I may be slightly unfair here. I suspect that the women were rare, and the book is slightly fictionalised in order to appeal to a target group not really including me. I have also just read half the book - there might be women in major roles in the other half. But when the women are as rare as they probably were, the few who did play a role certainly deserve to be something more than the hand holding the joystick in the dark.

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