Computer Sciences, Social Sciences and Feminism

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It started out as a joke. A friend and I attended a lecture together, a lecture on Social Informatics, which was pretty … well, not up-to-date considering the materials and examples that were used.

So one evening we decided we’d hijack part of the lecture that would take place the next day. The lecture room would be open for us from 11 am, with the professor usually arriving at 11.20 am – so why not use those 20 minutes, during which students would already be there, or at least be arriving, to talk about something more up to date than airplane crashes from the late 1990ies?

This is what we showed them.

After about 10 minutes, the professor showed up. We were concerned he might not like what we did, but instead, he insisted we finish the video (he even gave us his audio cable so we could use the room’s speakers and not my laptop’s speakers) and have a discussion about it afterwards!

The discussion after the video was pretty interesting. First of all, I asked for a show of hand: who considered sexist gender stereotypes like the “Damsel in Distress” as a problem? Only about a quarter of the students raised their hands. But lots of students later on approached me personally and via facebook and told me that they had actually never thought about the stories used in videogames used as a background for the – mostly male – characters. So this friend of mine and I actually made some people question contents and concepts of video games they had known for quite some time, and we indeed changed some minds.