Fake Geek Girl: Analyzing (and Gamifying) Gendered Fan Gatekeeping

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Fake Geek Girl is a short and very simple platforming-style game where the player controls a nameless female character, meant to represent a woman discovering geek culture for the first time. The player is tasked with guiding the character around to collect items to explore different interests, and to ultimately traverse to the end of the game. Each collectible item is meant to reflect some aspect of fan culture and participation, such as a comic book, a convention ticket, and a handheld video game console. Collecting one of these items plays a reinforcing sound, and displays a text message to the player that is related to the item. However, there's a twist-- rather than a positively reinforcing message like what would be typically expected after successfully completing a task, each message is a dramatized reflection of the discouragement, doubt, and disrespect that female fans often contend with when navigating male-dominated spaces. The messages range from overtly misogynistic, such as the suggestion that women should not be superheroes, to more subtle forms of fan gatekeeping, such as the unprovoked testing of knowledge described by authors like Hill (2016). They are also meant to reflect the range of anxieties that male fans often feel about female participation as highlighted by Scott, including concerns of the culture becoming too mainstream, of female fans being too 'casual' or inadequately informed, and of female fans feigning 'geekiness' for attention from men or to gain cultural capital (2019). The messages are obviously anecdotal and not formed based on any empirical research, but rather are meant to demonstrate how male-dominated fan communities can exert misogyny and discriminate against female participants both overtly as well as through varying degrees of microaggression.

Find the game and accompanying text here:https://sites.google.com/view/fakegeekgirl-commentary/4-fake-geek-girl

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