Gameplay Mechanics, Ideology, and Identity in Mobile and Online Girl Games
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This thesis analyzes the ideological functions of gameplay mechanics in five mobile and online girl games. The subjects of close reading in this study are Tampon Run, Wonder City, Barbie Fashionistas, Style Studio, and Central Park Wedding Prep. First, a review of the literature is presented. Video game studies and ludology, identity in game studies, and performativity and game studies are examined as the central areas of literature from which the thesis draws. The thesis then explores the historical context of the problem, investigating politics and ideology in gaming spaces and considering the activist and educational games Tampon Run and Wonder City. Finally, the thesis analyzes three traditional girl games: Barbie Fashionistas, Style Studio, and Central Park Wedding Prep. This study argues that activist games rely on limiting mechanics to convey feminist ideologies, while traditional games rely on the perceived mechanics-based empowerment of their players to convey patriarchal ideologies.