Schlagwort-Archive: Real vs. Un-Real

Man the Magic Circle! – Why game spaces cater to unsettled men and their inner conflicts

von Harald Koberg


These days (as most days I guess) there is a lot to get angry about. And anger, as is frequently claimed, is not so much about rational disagreement rather than about fear and uncertainty. The times, to quote the young Bob Dylan, they are a-changing. And when social norms change, conflict is at hand. Conflict not only between conservatives and progressives, but also within individuals. One can criticize pop-culture’s constant reproduction of seemingly outdated ideas of heroism and at the same time enjoy saving the (fictional) world time and time again. One can use online games as places to rant and rave ardently and at the same time be ashamed of one’s behavior. Or one can be frustrated about the objectifying representation of women in games and be pleasantly aroused by scarcely clad damsels in distress and sophisticated breast physics. Digital games, as I will argue in this article, invite players to experiment with the in-betweens of real and fictional, heterotopia and utopia, fun and earnestness. And by doing so they embrace those inner conflicts and encourage players to interact with them without a high risk of getting hurt.

In this text I want to focus on this elusive aspect of playing games, evading theoretical frameworks and the power structures attached to them. And I want to show, why this is especially attractive for people who struggle with and are angry about changing social norms or, to be more specific, for men struggling with and angry about the ongoing crisis of hegemonic masculinity – a discourse closely connected to the riot at the US-Capitol in January 2021. Man the Magic Circle! – Why game spaces cater to unsettled men and their inner conflicts weiterlesen