Exploring collectively, feministand intersectional possibilities of vide-a game by learning Godot Engine software
Since 2018 as a group we have organised workshops that toke place around 2 axes, a reflection on contemporary languages on contemporary video games from a feminist perspective, and the learning of video game programming by the free software Godot Engine.
Since the episode of “Gamergate” a few years ago, and partly thanks to the work of feminist academics such as: Anita Sarkeesian (feminist frequency), among others, we now have a better understanding of gender relations in video games. Since then, a number of video games have paid attention to the staging of female characters: (“The last of us” or “Child of light” for example, others are transforming certain aspects of “game-play”, “Never alone” or “Gone home”, or modifying their graphic approach to include elements more familiar to women. There are also a number of attempts to build more collaborative environments, to experiment with other formats. So far there is still very few attempts to develop a video game format that captures feminist and collaborative principles, by transforming the modalities of video games.
Knowledge transmission and appropriation of technology and media production have been key to feminist strategy over history. These processes have often been hosted in the art world as it allowing to raise debate and transform aethetic relation to key production domains such as video games while bringing toguether different skills and view points. Video games are a very dynamic media production, in Flanders and Brussels, as elsewhere they keep the same monochromous eye on its nature. Vide-a game is proposing an important apropriation of animation free software and collaboration techniques and modes of production in the art field in Brussels and Flanders, that aims to open doors and question the modalities of production in this domain. The choice of the workshop based production model allows solidarity reinforcing complementarity of skills and approaches within the group allows to bring together and value people who would otherwise have dismissed the possibility of understanding programming and animation.
One of the results of the Jeu Videa Workshops is the currently in production HeLa vide-a game, based on the character of Henrietta Lacks, a black american women from the 50’swhose cells that have been taken out without her knowing have served as the main material for biological research until today helping to cure many diseases.
The story takes place on the asteroid HeLa, which is said in the game to be made up of the huge amount of Henrietta Lacks’ cells having been reproduced. You control two characters at a time, all characters present in the level can be played. All of them have cells as common resources and a personal health bar depending on these cells, so you can heal each other. In the second part of this first level we meet HeLa (who is the goddess of the place) for the first time, she explains us her story and then gives us access to a button to ask for her help. The game is more like a puzzle game, in each level you have to find the solution to a problem, but the characters can’t do everything alone. They have to ask for HeLa’s help to unblock situations, thus giving HeLa power over his cells. HeLa will be able to change the bodies of the characters, the environment or the type of his cells…