Arts, Media and Popular Culture
Self-Saving Princess: Feminism and Post-Play Narrative Modding
This paper explores and investigates the myriad of ways that video game narratives get modded post-play for feminist purposes (intentionally and unintentionally). We will look at modding through cultural critique of the medium as well as through online discussion surrounding game play and game design that happens without the intent of feminist critique or modding. “Modding” as an activity emerges differently in each context, and we explore examples that show the richness and instability of this concept below. Specifically, we are interested in the way women change the way others experience the game (modding) in order to help expose or improve the gaming environment for other women (feminist purposes). For the purposes of this discussion we are defining post-play narrative modding (PPNM) as any significant changes to the narrative or to a gamer’s perception of the narrative that happens post game development and without actually changing the code. With constant downloadable content (DLC) and updates, video games are rarely static. PPNM, however, attempts to focus on what happens after the game’s initial release, which is typically the time when it receives the most attention. While we focus more strongly on players who have already played the game, it is possible, and probably common, that players who have yet to experience the game may also have their read of the narrative affected by the post-play narrative modding that they encounter. “Post-play” does not intend to suggest that the play is ever finished or that it is a linear activity. Instead, “post-play” in this context is meant to indicate all activity that happens after the moment the game goes public and players are able to interact with the game.
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