Keywords: Gaming, Feminism, Representation
Moving Forward is an interactive gaming experience that uses gaming as a medium to directly reflect on the gaming industry itself. The project specifically explores discriminatory issues that women face within the gaming industry, as well as many other STEM-based industries.
Due to the use of the gaming medium, Moving Forward allows for an easier spark of conversation or thought into an otherwise difficult to approach, and often grim natured, discussions on topics such as discrimination and gender roles within modern society. The conversation that the project facilitates allows for people who have felt similarly lost in relation to the world and work, to feel a connection towards the main character in the face of anxiety, rejections and discrimination, and feel both seen and represented within the player.
The narrative explores the story of the 'narrator', a young woman navigating the beginnings of her professional career in the gaming industry. The narrative explores the story in a journey-like structure, revealing slowly what is at the heart of the narrator's weariness; exploring anxiety and self doubt, but also fundamental social structures which underline one's struggles, particularly regarding minority identity in the STEM workplace.
After initial joy at the beginnings of a new adventure and the foray into the coveted field, the narrator soon realizes the 'obstacles' along the way, laying bare the lost and empty feeling at the heart of many minority groups entering predominantly male orientated environments. From rigidly traditional work culture and attitudes, so-called 'bro-culture', and a lack of representation or diversity in both gaming development, but also workplaces and social circles, often one lacks commonality with peers, especially with regard to women and LGBT people.
The world envelops itself as a sort of 'dream-state'; a nightmarish manifestation of the narrator's thoughts and feelings slowly eating away. From feelings of anxiety and depression, the narrator's sense of 'lostness' ultimately leads her to further examination and contextualisation in her own world through the nightmarish forest she finds herself initially trapped in. After overcoming obstacles through self-reflection and courage, the narrator realises the problem isn't individualistic as she previously anticipated, rather, the problem at its core is systemic. As she overcomes her final obstacle, she is overcome with a sense of dismayed relief; while she may represent a unique identity within her own gaming workplace, the reason she is there is, ultimately, because societal shifts by women and minority communities before her have allowed even the chance to be represented in this field, and at this level.
The issue is explored in a metaphorical nature because issues such as anxiety, depression and not fitting in are often individualistic, through this, players can follow the journey off the main character and gain a more well rounded view on the issues at hand in an interesting narrative matter, rather than a strict, heavy-handed approach, whilst also being able to relate and see reason within the narrations approach. The gaming format also provides a more accurate platform by quite literally being able to overcome the obstacles manually, instead of the narrative 'telling' the story, allowing for a personal touch, and ultimately player satisfaction which mimics the real-world difficulty of having to navigate difficult social, work, and well, world situations.
Moving Forward is the story of the systemic discrimation at the heart of the modern world, how one often individualizes and blames oneself for issues much larger, but often hidden in the world, and how, ultimately, change can slowly arise through determination and courage.