ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat

By Newton Lee
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 4, No. 2]

DOI: 10.1145/1129006.1129023

The theme of our workshop quotes a variation of the title of a seminal and widely popular book "From Barbie to Mortal Kombat" edited by Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins in 1998 which followed a meeting organized in 1996 at MIT. Until that time, both industry and research endorsed myths about females and gaming. On the one hand, software companies did not believe that there was a commercial market for girls. On the other hand, researchers did not fully recognize the study of game design and play as a resource for understanding how learners and women, in particular, engage in STEM. The title refers to the popular game Mortal Kombat — a violent first person shooter game played mostly by men and boys, and to the BarbieFashion Designer game. In 1996, the Barbie game challenged the myth that girls do not like computer games — it was the commercially most successful software package that Christmas season, and it was designed for girls! The book challenged the myth that research on games is not useful, as the chapters provided insight into learning, technology, design, and gender studies.

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