Anastasia Salter deposited Crafting is So Hardcore: Masculinized Making in Gaming Representations of Labor in the group TC Popular Culture on MLA Commons 3 years ago
In this paper we examine the representation of crafts in video games, particularly in “crafting systems” – collections of mechanics that are described as crafting within a game’s narrative. Real world crafting practitioners value creativity, expression, and mastery of material, but the act of crafting itself is often viewed by society as reproductive, feminized labor and therefore devalued. Because of this, crafting systems in games have been designed to more closely resemble masculinized, productive labor in the form of repetitive, manufacturing-like mechanics. These representational choices persist even across games lauded for their crafting systems, as our analysis demonstrates. Through an examination of both user-generated tutorials and game mechanics for three games that frequently appear on “best crafting games” lists, we show that games persist in devaluing the reproductive labor of crafting, reducing creative expression and material mastery to marginal and repetitive tasks while catering to the palates of masculine gamers by emphasizing stats-driven progression rather than creative making.