restricted access 2. Playing with Time
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. 59 2 PlayingwithTime DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR NOTHING In 2006, the Nintendo DS Lite was released as a mobile gaming platform that specifically targeted women audiences. Along with this new product, a marketing campaign ran in several special interest magazines such as O: The Oprah Magazine, People, and Martha Stewart Living.1 The campaign used the slogan “Do Something with Your Nothing” and featured situations where people are often bored (such as doctor’s office waiting rooms and bus stops). Rhetorically, the advertisements suggested that video game play should be done not as an act of leisure for the sake of leisure, but rather to fill snippets of time. For example, one advertisement suggests, “The average wait in a doctor’s office is 23.4 minutes. Do something with your nothing” (Figure 6).2 These ads often accompanied the slogan with images of happy people—­ primarily women—­ playing, while bored people enviously watched them. The “nothing” being referred to in the “Do Something with Your Nothing ” campaign was, of course, time.3 In order to play video games, in order to enjoy them and become a good player, a person needs time more than anything else. The idea of games and apps to keep oneself constantly occupied has become increasingly relevant with the ubiquity of mobile devices. Mobile gaming can be seen as an intensification of this trend—­at the core of the iPhone game sits the inherent contradictions between productivity and play. But time is a complicated factor within the lived experiences of many women, and these complications have become part of the designed identity of the theorized woman player. The importance of time as a factor in the designed identity of Player Two is apparent given that “time positive” is its own category in the chart from the previous chapter. 60 . PLAYING WITH TIME Being “time positive,” and being flexible in how a game can be played, therefore, is a core concept at the root of both the lived realities as well as the perceived lives of women players. In this chapter I demonstrate the delicate balance between time, play, and gender as it relates to the designed identity of Player Two. As noted Figure 6. The Nintendo DS “Do Something with Your Nothing” magazine advertisement. This spot ran in O: The Oprah Magazine, People, and Martha Stewart Living in 2006. The ad illustrates a desire to sell women on the idea that playtime should be done in small, interstitial snippets of time. PLAYING WITH TIME . 61 in the introduction, many women have a specific and complicated relationship with leisure activities, often leaving leisure partitioned into small blocks of time. Since second-­ wave feminism, with its influx of women returning to the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s, women’s leisure has become pocketed into small moments uninhabited by perceived productivity , due to what Arlie Russell Hochschild refers to as “the second shift.”4 The second shift pronounces the notion that women often work full-­time jobs both in offices and in household management. Yet, again, time is what video games require—­ without it games do not get played. In this way, the designed identity of the woman player in many video games deals with managing time both in the game world and in the real world. The resulting play never fully engages the player and never allows for the comfort of uninhibited leisure within digital play. At the same time, it is impossible to ignore that it does allow and make time for play, even if that play is segmented. Playing with time is about allotting specific moments for productive play and giving new players entry into the medium. Time management, of course, is a tricky topic in video games. Alison Harvey, for example, demonstrates ways that families often limit screen time in general, but that video game screen time also plays an important role for many families in terms of togetherness within the domestic sphere.5 Thus we don’t often associate playing video games with managing time. Time management tends to be relegated to the world of business or the management of the household. Time management is in the spirit of using one’s time in the most efficient way possible, whether that is getting projects done on time, attending meetings, or taking the kids to soccer practice. We associate time management with the efficiency of everyday tasks, not with the free-­ form nature of leisure, which is theoretically not meant to be managed. Leisure...


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