Anxious postcolonial masculinity in online video games: race, gender and colonialism in Indian digital spaces
This article examines representative games from Zapak.com: India’s most-popular gaming website (highest number of daily visitors) to conceptualize the relationship between masculinity and colonialism within digital geographies, in postcolonial spaces. Three of the four games chosen here, Sleeping at the Meeting, Zombie Pirate and Yoga Teacher, are representative of games categorized as ‘Girl’s Games’ on Zapak.com: where the ludic engagement is limited to dressing and undressing of white women in a variety of professional or social contexts. The fourth game Bipasha’s Beach Blaze is a continuation of such reductive stereotyping, albeit in the different but culturally significant site of Bollywood. The four games were selected using a case-study methodology and represent discrete but related artifacts. Following a survey of key literature, the authors address the limitations of traditional game studies approaches and propose a replicable methodology located at the intersection of two epistemic frames: one of critical masculinity studies and the other of ludology. Through analyzing the strategic ideologies behind the production, circulation and the game-play of these digital artifacts we argue that Zapak.com not only enables online sexism but also becomes a representative digital space where anxious performances of postcolonial masculinity – that has its historical basis in India’s colonial legacy – can be materialized. Further in highlighting the status of these ‘Girl’s Games’ as artifacts that do not allow for any substantial ludic or narrative involvement – we emphasize the need to constantly interrogate digital spaces as sites where hegemonic ideologies about race, gender and colonialism are reproduced and reified.
|Journal||Gender, Place & Culture|