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Self Reflexivity and Scopophilia
by Sarah Brin `

Self reflexivity might just be one of the ways to interrupt or challenge the problem of scopophilia. While traditional narratives are designed to accommodate this sort of projection, and what Mulvey conceptualizes as the male gaze, self-reflexivity breaks the illusion. My hope for self-reflexivity as a tactic (in not only games, but literature and cinema) is that individuals might take a more critical (perhaps even more compassionate) approach to their surroundings and contemporary situations. I'm thinking a lot about Brecht here, and how he'd use atonal music or have players break the third wall in order to interrupt narratological immersion in order to force audience-members to consider the pressing and tremendously complicated nature of post-Weimar politics. But was Brecht successful, or was he just preaching to the choir? This is a problem the avant-garde has always faced. Can challenging (and by relation, self-reflexive) content actually -change- people, or does this kind of art appeal strictly those who already subscribe to avant-garde ideologies? How rational is it for me to expect that a Counter-Strike player can be moved by in-game acts of rebelliousness or protest?

 

However, Nonny de la Peña's remark about how male players can develop empathy through the use of female avatars gives me hope. Games are gendered spaces, and to use Mulvey's terminology (although it's not really appropriate to be framing anything with Freudian terminology), the bulk of them are pretty phallocentric. Can games use self-reflexivitity to build a more equitable and gender-conscious world?

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Self reflexivity in video games by Lucas Arts (2010) An example of self-reflexivity in a video game trailer