Proposal Title

Cozy Masculinity

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Start Date

23-6-2022 12:00 AM

End Date

23-6-2022 12:00 AM

Abstract

Toxic masculinity is the foundation of the entire video game industry. While this is quite apparent in the demographic make-up of those who are working on games and the characters they design, this toxicity also has had a hold on which games are considered mainstream. Gaming culture is full of gatekeeping of who is a ‘real’ gamer based off of what types of games someone plays. Video games that are popular predominantly with women are often dismissed ‘not real’ games. Mainstream games often utilize violence as their core mechanic with the goal of dominating other beings or resources. Other characters in these games are treated as objects that are obstacles to overcome or given as rewards when the player meets their objectives. Hardcore games are celebrated for the mastery of violence necessary to progress, while games that lack violence are dismissed as being ‘casual’ and those that play them ‘not real gamers’. This mentality of delegitimizing certain players is one of the contributing factors of why the barrier for women to enter the hobby is so high.

With social distancing in place since March 2019, there has been a surge of women joining the hobby and vocalized support for games that do not align with what has been deemed as mainstream. With this surge, a new label for these types of games has also been more widely adopted, cozy games. Contrasting with the toxic masculinity that has breathed life into what has been classified as a ‘real’ game, cozy games include characters and gameplay that is in-line with feminism. Cozy games often utilize low-pressure, repetitive tasks as their core mechanic, focus on the relationships that the player forms with the other characters, and have narratives centered on unpacking complex emotions and personal growth. Rather than celebrating being hardened like in mainstream games, cozy games focuses on our softness. ‘Cozy Masculinity’ poses a short video game that negotiates this contrast of cozy game feminism to mainstream toxic masculinity. It is an exploration of what type of cultures these two ends of the spectrum cultivate in gaming and emphasizes the necessary growth cozy games bring to the video game industry.

Bio

Chelsea Brtis is Assistant Professor of Digital Illustration at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received a Bachelor of Architecture from Iowa State University and an MFA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication from the University of Texas at Dallas. Previously, Brtis has taught digital 3D illustration and games studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and also has been a character artist, 2D animator, and 3D modeler. Brtis is the creator of the recognized and awarded games Together, which focuses on building empathy during COVID-19, and Local Goods, which highlights how our role as consumers impacts the environment. In her research, Brtis interrogates essential topics such as environmental politics, animal-human relations, and inclusive representation through game development.

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Jun 23rd, 12:00 AM Jun 23rd, 12:00 AM

Cozy Masculinity

Toxic masculinity is the foundation of the entire video game industry. While this is quite apparent in the demographic make-up of those who are working on games and the characters they design, this toxicity also has had a hold on which games are considered mainstream. Gaming culture is full of gatekeeping of who is a ‘real’ gamer based off of what types of games someone plays. Video games that are popular predominantly with women are often dismissed ‘not real’ games. Mainstream games often utilize violence as their core mechanic with the goal of dominating other beings or resources. Other characters in these games are treated as objects that are obstacles to overcome or given as rewards when the player meets their objectives. Hardcore games are celebrated for the mastery of violence necessary to progress, while games that lack violence are dismissed as being ‘casual’ and those that play them ‘not real gamers’. This mentality of delegitimizing certain players is one of the contributing factors of why the barrier for women to enter the hobby is so high.

With social distancing in place since March 2019, there has been a surge of women joining the hobby and vocalized support for games that do not align with what has been deemed as mainstream. With this surge, a new label for these types of games has also been more widely adopted, cozy games. Contrasting with the toxic masculinity that has breathed life into what has been classified as a ‘real’ game, cozy games include characters and gameplay that is in-line with feminism. Cozy games often utilize low-pressure, repetitive tasks as their core mechanic, focus on the relationships that the player forms with the other characters, and have narratives centered on unpacking complex emotions and personal growth. Rather than celebrating being hardened like in mainstream games, cozy games focuses on our softness. ‘Cozy Masculinity’ poses a short video game that negotiates this contrast of cozy game feminism to mainstream toxic masculinity. It is an exploration of what type of cultures these two ends of the spectrum cultivate in gaming and emphasizes the necessary growth cozy games bring to the video game industry.