Video Games as Feminist Pedagogy


  • Samantha Leigh Allen Emory University


This article argues that video games are powerful but overlooked tools for feminist pedagogy. I review two game-based teaching activities that I conducted with my Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies course during my time as a Teaching Associate at Emory University. In the first activity, I opened a transgender studies unit with the independent games dys4ia, Lim and Mainichi. In the second activity, I taught the feminist theory of intersectionality through Halo, a popular first-person shooter series. After reviewing the theoretical motivations for these activities as well as their results, I draw connections to existing education research and to Ian Bogost’s concept of procedural rhetoric (Bogost, 2007) in order to account for the effectiveness of my game-based teaching activities. I proceed to make the case for video games as specifically feminist pedagogical tools with reference to the existing literature on feminist pedagogy (Crabtree, Sapp & Licona, 2009a; Fisher, 1981; Sandell, 1991; Shrewsbury, 1997), particularly bell hooks’ classic Teaching to Transgress (1994). In the conclusion, I attempt to address fears that other feminist instructors might have about implementing game-based teaching activities in their classrooms.

Author Biography

Samantha Leigh Allen, Emory University

Samantha Allen graduated from Rutgers University with BAs in Women’s & Gender Studies and Linguistics and is now a third-year PhD student in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. In 2013, she received the John Money Fellowship for Scholars of Sexology from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University. Her areas of study include feminist theory, queer theory, affect theory and psychoanalysis. Samantha’s dissertation places practices of sexual fetishism in conversation with Silvan Tomkins’ theory of affect as a way to revisit Freudian theories of perversion and fetishism.