Bo Ruberg on Making Players Care

04 Jul, 2021

Bo Ruberg on Making Players Care

How do video games engage politics and employ cultural techniques? BCNM alum Bo Ruberg and Rainforest Scully-Blaker provide insight on this question and the general relationship between care and video games in their paper Making players care: The ambivalent cultural politics of care and video games. The research article was recently featured in the International Journal of Cultural Studies.

From the paper's abstract:

The relationship between care and video games is fraught. While the medium has the potential to allow players to meaningfully express and receive care, the cultural rhetorics that connect video games to care are often problematic. Even among game designers and scholars committed to social justice, some view care with hope and others with concern. Here, we identify and unpack these tensions, which we refer to as the ambivalent cultural politics of care, and illustrate them through three case studies. First, we discuss “tend-and-befriend games,” coined by Brie Code, which we read through feminist theorists Sarah Sharma and Sara Ahmed. Second, we address “empathy games” and the worrisome implication that games by marginalized people must make privileged players care. Lastly, we turn to issues of care in video game development. We discuss Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series (2012–18) and strikingly care-less fan responses to recent employee layoffs.

Access the entire paper here!