Times Higher Ed: Ready Player Two

By Esther MacCallum-Stewart
Times Higher Ed

Ready Player Two (Shira Chess)Shira Chess asks deeper questions about who plays games, and why half of them are seemingly ignored, by the media, by academia and by the games industry itself. If 50 per cent of gamers identify as female – a statistic that has remained consistently stable for 15 years – why do such strong stereotypes of players persist?

By diving deeper into the world of “Player Two”, a player who often actively refuses the title of “gamer”, Chess finds that games made for women are changing the monetary, ideological and rules-based structures of games. In Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood, the player becomes a successful fashionista; in Gardenscapes, she embraces early retirement to restore the decrepit grounds of a Vanderbilt-style mansion. Both of these games have sold in their millions. However, Chess argues that Player Two is as much a fiction as her cis-male counterpart, and that these games present us with idealised, troubled versions of wish-fulfilment similar to those found in the more well-known, louder games. In an interview, designer Sheri Graner Ray argues that “the game industry does not see women as a market. They see women as a genre.”

Read the full review.