I’ve been thinking a lot about the comparison between films and video games–why is that we allow such diversity in movies but only have one way of thinking about the “successful” video games? Reading burlison11’s post, Taking Fun Seriously, reminded me of some of the themes we covered in my Digital Africas course. In it, we read a lot of novels published on Facebook or on blogs. The works tended to be written for women and included Gossip Girl-like themes and story lines. Many people don’t consider them to be “real literature” since they contain such salacious stories and simplistic writing. We read them in our class, though, because they’re such a huge hit with young women. Many express gratitude that the authors are writing about their life experiences, or the experiences of women they know about. Our professor told us that oftentimes these authors write about themes that no one else addresses in their work, and these themes really resonate with young women. People are telling their stories and speaking to them, and the success of these novels signals the importance of that. Our professor compared these digital novels to the emergence of the original novel. Similarly, its audience was also largely women and it too was considered too sexual and not “real literature.” But, as we see, novels have evolved into a respected literature form.
This reminds me of our conversations in class about high culture, low culture, and popular culture. In addition to these cultural productions being raced, I think they’re also gendered as feminine. In Digital Africas, we learned that new literature forms often go for “lowest hanging fruit on the tree” in terms of theme/audience. The authors look for the thing that will sell the most copies. Coincidentally, in the case of these African digital novels, this is often the only places young women’s stories are being told.
How can we think about the emergence of Facebook novels, serial blog novels, and the evolution of the traditional novel in terms of video games? They, similarly, aren’t taken seriously by mainstream audiences. Video games are constrained by the need to be fun and entertaining, but will we see this evolve, like we saw the novel evolve? Like we may see the Facebook/blog novel evolve? I think as more people enter the world of gaming, with different needs, interests, and opinions on gameplay, we’ll see this transformation that will open video games to new worlds.