• But Does Pikachu Love You? Reproductive Labor in Casual and Hardcore Games

    Anastasia Salter (see profile) , Mel Stanfill, Anne Sullivan
    Digital Humanities, TC Popular Culture
    Games--Study and teaching, Games, Video games
    Item Type:
    Conference proceeding
    Conf. Title:
    Foundations of Digital Games 2019
    Conf. Loc.:
    San Luis Obispo, California, USA
    Conf. Date:
    August 26-30, 2019
    pokemon, casual games, labor, gamers, Digital culture, Game studies
    Permanent URL:
    Since the first Pokémon game launched in Japan in 1996, the series has been a balancing act between casual and hardcore gaming. While the first iteration and “core” series has emphasized a modified, accessible version of traditional JRPG mechanics, other titles have frequently emphasized so-called casual play; most recently, Pokémon Go lured in a new set of players with mobile, locative Pokémon hunting. The 2018 release of a hybrid game, Let’s Go, Pikachu! and its sister release Let’s Go, Eevee!, has drawn renewed attention to the casual-hardcore dichotomy, meeting considerable resistance and criticism for its perceived casualization of the franchise. Through analyzing the discourse of the new game’s reception as demonstrated by a dataset of user reviews on Metacritic alongside published game reviews, the gendered nature of the casual-hardcore dichotomy in the Pokémon franchise becomes clear. Key themes coded from the reviewed data include grinding, difficulty, nostalgia, and “cuteness.” Placing this discourse alongside the game’s own internal representations of reproductive labor through Pokémon caretaking and the contested definition of “grinding” demonstrates a fundamental resistance from the so-called hardcore game community to what are viewed as feminized play mechanics. The revealed tension is particularly remarkable given the emotional, reproductive labor of training and loving Pokémon that is front-ended in the franchise’s overarching narrative and core values--a set of values that inherently conflicts with the “hardcore” gamer mentality of play.
    Full Citation: Anastasia Salter, Mel Stanfill, and Anne Sullivan. 2019. But Does Pikachu Love You? Reproductive Labor in Casual and Hardcore Games. In The Fourteenth International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG ’19), August 26–30, 2019, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 10 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3337722.3337739
    Published as:
    Conference proceeding    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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