In the introduction of Claudia Pederson’s 2012 PhD thesis, Gaming the System, she writes “The cross-cultural mobilization and ultimately the redefinition of the avant-gardes’ conceptual and material legacy as a transnational phenomenon informed the rise of play as a technique central to critical intervention in response to the economic and cultural transformations associated with globalization.” Of all the writing I’ve read in this class, this was one of the statements which made me sit back and think on why we haven’t specifically devoted time to talking about the notion of “playing.” Much of the critique we’ve seen discussed approaches its subject by treating it as a serious statement attached to the current state of feminism, so it’s integral we shift our focus to what it means “to play.” Because at the end of the day, that’s what video games are created to do: They may make clear arguments about the world, but the whole point is to convince others to climb along for the ride through playing. I didn’t have time to read Pederson’s entire thesis (it is nearly 320 pages long), but a large part of those 320 pages traces how the history of “playing” has evolved, fractured into more indirect statements about the environment in which it is created.
Arzu Ozkal’s work ties into Pederson’s in the way it examines how human bodies interact with the confines of an oppressive environment. “Playing” is a large part of that interaction, and it feeds into the discussions we had at the start of the term about objects that had been designed/engineered with an inherent sexism. Unsurprisingly, the ones that came up most often were video game controllers, toys, and other pieces of technology that are typically associated with “play.” The way these two ideas tie in together suggests a measure of truth in Pederson’s assertion about how the idea of “play” itself must be analyzed when studying feminism in its context within a changing social climate.
Gün is Ozkal and Pederson’s attempt to use an old Turkish tradition, where women meet and hold discussions while eating traditional Turkish food. The overt goals of these gatherings is to foster a sense of community within the women, but I think it is also Ozkal and Pederson’s way of gauging how often these women bring up issues related to sexism, in this context of “play.” More interestingly, it might be an attempt to examine how certain gender roles influence the meetings. Is there anything that happens suggesting the interaction of these women is influenced by living in a male-dominated society? Would they react to each other differently if a male was present? These are the intriguing questions that Gün seeks to bring to the forefront with its meetings, all tied together with the workshops Pederson and Ozkal offer toward the end. It will be illuminating to see how the interaction unfolds in their following meetings.
To Claudia Pederson: In what ways do you think the notion of “play” affects a non-globalized community, as in one not directly in tune with instantaneous communication?
To Arzu Ozkal: How do you think the body would interact with technology in a non-oppressive world? Would the differences be apparent immediately?