State of Gender Representation

Western society illustrates a level of social stigma associated with video games. Such social stigma can be demonstrated through personalised experiences noted by autoethnography, such as family suggesting that one should ‘step away and go outside.’ That of media and institutional stigma towards individuals who play violent video games, employs a slanted association between societal violence and gaming. As a result of western categorisation we are left with a conceived image of gamers as social outcasts, contrast to how State of Play perceives Korean gamers as public figures. Additionally State of Play demonstrates comparisons to that of western gender representation throughout the gaming industry.

From a western perspective, Arnott, J. (2009) states that ‘for non-gamers there is something distasteful about a grown man investing time and energy into a seemingly unproductive activity.’ This was illustrated in State of Play in the form of older family members interrogating Jaedong about employment through gaming. While Arnott demonstrates the stigma associated with gamers he also underpins another noted throughout State of Play, the lack of gender representation association with certain recreation. This was prominent with female participants positioned as spectators, with traditional gender roles consistent. We can draw comparisons of such payment and participant equality in western sports and eSports, with female income significantly lesser than male income throughout the sporting industry. Gender representation isn’t limited purely to employment and income, but in the environment of the game itself, with Ubisoft stating that female protagonists in the Assassin’s Creed series would be difficult and costly (Gittleson, K. 2014).

Retrospective experience of live and digital sporting events within Australia, State of Play allows for comparison of such inequality, in that media representation and investment is limited for female participants and that male participants are displayed as communal and national idols. We can compare a western perspective of certain Australian sportsman to that of Jaedong, with varying personalities, but attributed as hero’s through sporting and appearance. This is illustrated through the bearing of gifts and post game interviews, with female consumers initial support for Jaedong occurring through the ‘love of his eyes.’ Additionally Kim Shee-Yoon, the first female Starcraft pro was selected due to not only skill level, but appearance as well (Chambers, B. 2011). The sexualisation of female sporting professionals is seemingly prominent for corporate sponsorship, with the American Lingerie Football League in the U.S for example.

Applying autoethnography to that of State of Play allows for the reflection of how gender portrayal in certain spheres is similar across various cultures. Additionally that of the social stigma of western gaming is absent throughout Korean eSports.

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