Virtual spaces hold
potential for gendered and gender-free play. Mnookin (1996)
calls virtual space "utopian space of possibility", "virgin place,"
"utopian dream-space." It is a place for rebirth and endless
"self-fashioning" of unexplored, and perhaps of "suppressed aspects" of
self. Creation of narrative spaces "has been a purview of those in
(Pearce, 2007). But digital games hold a new promiss. Games can be used
as story telling techniques,
as narrative environments with thier "unique poetic structure[s]"
2007). Whereas theme parks created spatial narratives, expeience
design, illusion of authenticity, immersion, digital games and networks
create agency, identity, and persistent communities. Cetainly most MMOG
are themed, but those that are not (Second Life, There, Kaneva) a
guests are residents/ citizens and there to stay (Pearce, 2007).
SPORE is a cute cartoonish game centered around the idea of evolution. While most strategy games treat space as a "domain to be conquired" (Fullerton, Morie, & Pearce, 2007), SPORE treats space as endless frontier for exploration. Space is not a context for combat but a fasinating landscape of exploration. "Poetics of game space" (how space is conceptualized as a domain for play) is the universe. However, since the representation of space does contain the priorities and conceptions of prevailing culture (Fullerton, Morie, & Pearce, 2007), the activity of the game is conquest (space as soemthing to be captured) and hence it is still falls into the traditional Western, Cartesian, male, God game paradigm. SPORE is slightly different from toher male-gendered games as it does not have usual organizational structured and the ways of progressing though the ranks (but secrete knowledge, tactical mastery, and geographical domination are there). Being a female, I enjoy playing SPORE, but sometimes wonder what does gender bring or could bring to this game. Henry Jenkins comment that "girls need to learn to explore "unsafe" and "enfiendly" spaces; experience complete freedom of movement; develop self-confidence; learn to "run witht he wolves" and not just follow the butterflies" is rather offensive because of the assumptions that he made. Girls ways of exploration involves pointless following after butterflies? Nonsense! Just as Jenkins who feels nostalgic about the "spaces of boyhood," girls have thier own spaces from childhood. But somehow the game producers do not know and rather clueless of what those places may be. Female writers are right on track when they describe those places as secret places of "removed existence" created for retreat, intimacy, protection, ability to open portals into alternative universes, imaginative other worlds. Such worlds "are NOT a matter of "following the butterflies"" as they challenge "young women in complex ways with complex characters" (Fullerton, Morie, & Pearce, 2007). Research have shown that girls "like storylines and character development" (Fullerton, Morie, & Pearce, 2007), and hence they are more likely to like games that have such features. Constructing community spaces is another kind of games that attracts girls but that are not even considered games by some (Second Life, There). Thus, narrative-performing space can describe the femine features of space. Being raised in "highly restrictive and confined physical environments (Jenkins, 1998), children/teenagers flock to online games. I do not think many women will play SPORE because it lacks "richness, complexity, and depth" (Morningstar &Farmer, 1991) offered by multi-user social network environments.