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. ix PREFACE When I began writing this book, I was a different person. This, unto itself, is not entirely unusual—­ like many of my colleagues have done with their own works, I began various versions of this project while writing my dissertation . Like this book, my dissertation was a study of the design and marketing of video games targeting women audiences. I completed my dissertation in 2009, following the height in popularity of the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS—­ a transformational moment for gendered gaming . Since that time, the video game industry has continued to change dramatically—­ what began as inklings of new kinds of games later became more developed and complex. For example, the seedlings of “time management games” (best characterized by Diner Dash and its successors ) turned into the far more complex systems of the invest/express category (described in great detail in this book). As video game companies saw the monetary potential of marketing video games to women—­ even women who did not necessarily characterize themselves as gamers—­ new kinds of games developed and became increasingly robust. But it is not only the games that have changed since 2005 when I began this journey. I, too, am a different person. When I started I was a single woman in my early thirties. I had not yet met my husband and had not yet had children. I was a graduate student, unemployed beyond a meager graduate stipend. And, in this, my writing was a touch self-­ righteous. I wrote in great detail about how video games designed for and marketed to women tended to treat all women players as though they were mothers—­ regardless of whether they occupy this identity in the real world. As presumed mothers their play was meant to be necessarily productive, filling holes of time or functioning as a backdrop to emotional labor.While gaming has changed over the past decade, these aspects have not (although, x . PREFACE perhaps, they have become more refined and sometimes a bit more difficult to spot). While the attributes of gendered gaming have gone relatively unchanged, my perspective on these aspects has changed dramatically. As a single woman graduate student in my thirties, it was very easy to look down on games such as those made for the NintendoWii system that were so heavily marketed to mothers (ca. 2006) as a method of gaining love and family togetherness through play. I could look cynically at these ploys and suggest that all women had the right to play, and that play should not be for others; rather, play should be selfish and personal. Similarly, I was troubled by Nintendo DS advertisements that suggested women use small snippets of time to play, as opposed to the long spans of time suggested to men in advertisements for games such as those in the Madden NFL series. “Why can’t we just have women play for the sake of play?” my dissertation seemed to ask. Ten years, a tenure-­ track position, a husband, and a child later, this question feels entirely naïve. I would love a video game that my family could play together. The games I play, I play for research. And most of them, I should add, I play in small snippets of time—­ whatever is allowed by my busy schedule. When I tell people that I study video games I shrug loosely when they inevitably ask, “Oh . . . what do you play for fun?” I play for work. My play is almost 100 percent productive. Sometimes it feels as though my dissertation was predictive of my own path in life. And given this shift, one that was inevitable to my own life choices, there is a subtler thing happening here that I cannot possibly deny.When I began this project in 2005, the games I wrote about were not really being designed for me. They were being designed, as I already noted, for busy mothers who were looking for snippets of relaxation. And because of that, I was never the target market for the games I studied. My position allowed me the ability to see these games from the perspective of an onlooker. But as a working parent in her early forties, I am now the person for whom these games are actually made. To clarify, what I had written in the paragraphs above implies that my perspective on the games has, itself, shifted dramatically in the past ten years. What I am saying now is different : it is...


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