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Game On or Game Over?: Video Gaming Documentaries Available from Kanopy

30 May

My video gaming is mostly confined to using Pokémon Go as a way to entertain myself during my walk to and from work;  I like AR (Augmented Reality) games since they can make everyday reality a bit more fun.  My husband is more of a traditional console gamer and recently has gotten into VR (Virtual Reality) gaming on the Oculus (you can check out the VR experience for yourself during our Makerspace Mondays).  My son is part of the new generation who enjoys watching let’s play videos of game run throughs and gaming tournaments as much as playing the games himself.  The many ways we enjoy gaming continues to expand.  Kanopy has a variety of thought provoking documentaries that offer both positive and critical views of games and gaming culture that are available for you to stream.

State of Play: The World of South-Korean Professional Video Gamers
state of play
all images in this post from kanopy.com

Could someday professional video game tournaments replace the Super Bowl or the World Cup?  Thousands of Koreans attend the Proleague in Korea every year. The documentary State of Play follows three Korean gamers specializing in Starcraft, who are at different stages of their video game careers.  The documentary is also available from Hoopla.  If you enjoy this documentary you can also check out A Gamer’s Life: The Lives of Professional Video Game Players.

GTFO: Get the F**k Out – Women in Gaming
gtfo

GTFO was an Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival; it looks at misogyny in the realm of professional gamers, game designers, and players online.  The film captures a variety of experiences of those who have felt discriminated against or harassed.  The documentary was interesting, though I would have liked to have seen more men interviewed to give more insight into why the behavior is so often occurring and why it is seen as OK by those who are the perpetrators.

Gaming in Color: The Queer Side of Gaming
gaming in color

Much like GTFO, Gaming in Color examines the discrimination faced by some gamers, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, but it also looks at some of the positive experiences that queer gamers have had as well.  It briefly shows a few of the games which have begun to incorporate same sex relationships and visits GaymerX, which seeks to be an inclusive video game convention.  Gaming in Color is also available from Hoopla.

Besides these three documentaries you can find ones on topics like violence in video games with Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture and Joystick Warriors: Video Games, Violence & the Culture of Militarism; the impact of gaming on education in Mind Games – The Power of Video Gaming; and even the marketing potential of Virtual Reality in Infinite Reality with Jeremy Bailenson (part of the Stanford Executive Briefings Series).

If you are looking for historical perspectives on gaming than click over to Hoopla where you can learn about the history of gaming with the documentary Gameplay: The Story Of The Videogame Revolution.  Learn if the myth of the buried ET games is true and about the demise of Atari with Atari: Game Over.

Whether you agree or disagree with the perspectives in these documentaries, they open up important conversations about the future of gaming and how it will impact our lives.

And if you want to check out a new game, stop by the Hoboken Public Library where you can borrow everything from Super Mario Maker for the Wii U to Call of Duty WWII and God of War for the Playstation 4.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Can Anyone Be Original?: Searching for the Answer in Jean Genet’s Absurdest Play The Maids

23 May

themaids
Image from Hoopladigital.com

Class, power, and a plot to kill, these seem to be the embodiment of what the play, The Maids by Jean Genet, as theater of the absurd gets across. But it’s not these things that captured me about Genet’s The Maids. It was what lies beneath the surface that drew me in to consider another possible way to read this play.

The Maids (French: Les Bonnes) is a play by the French dramatist Jean Genet. It was first performed at the Théâtre de l’Athénée in Paris on April 17, 1947.  While Genet’s The Maids was loosely based on the real life infamous sisters Christine and Léa Papin, who brutally murdered their employer and her daughter in Le Mans, France, in 1933, Genet’s play takes an absurd and more intriguing turn. The Maids is available in print from BCCLS Libraries and as an ebook from Hoopla.  You can also check out the 1975 movie adaptation from Christopher Miles on DVD or stream it from Kanopy.

Jean Genet’s The Maids explores the plight of working class women in early 20th century France. This is seen as these women, Claire and Solange, are forced into assuming the role of subservient, passive, and obedient maids. Even though Genet’s The Maids is the epitome of Theater of the Absurd, it both highlights and challenges gender oppression. The Maids is recognized as absurd because it calls to attention the struggle between the layering of logical and illogical depictions of women of the working class; thus showing how through their performativity the maids manipulate as their own the identity, that of their oppressors.

Now, once the play opens, it is unclear who is whom because we are not granted the privilege of a script. But if you are reading the play before viewing it, you are made aware immediately the identity of the characters. It is this very juxtaposition between performativity that we see how to receive Genet’s personification of identity. Genet’s play through performativity gives way to this idea of false identity, and through irony, keywords, and personification destabilizes the binary original vs. copy.

Genet’s The Maids opens up as a play within a play, thus alluding to the contrast between reality and performativity, and how Claire and Solange break the barrier separating the two. Also, in contrast, Genet’s The Maids undermines the notion of a true identity thus alluding to an origin of a false identity, which then gives way to what can be interpreted as “original.”

If the maids are imitating an imitation of what may or may not even be original, then this calls attention to the question of what is real identity; thus, neutralizing the very difference between classes.  If the maids are performing as Madame, who is putting on a show herself, then what really is Genet saying about identity? How does the binary deconstruct this very question?   These are the questions that caused me to look at the play in a very different light, thus provoking me to analyze my own common interpretation of the surface of this play, to one that may give way to a more elaborate and colorful yet contradicting sentiment that maybe no one is an original but rather refractions.

What are your thoughts about the important conversations this play opens up?  The Maids, a performativity reliant play, sheds light on how as humans we all are performing in our reality, identity, and gender roles.

Written by
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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