The game genres that typically dominate the discourse of game studies, from role-playing games with their questing heroes to simulation games with their emphasis on settler and/or military aggression, are associated with masculinity. Romance, when it exists at all, is a footnote that follows the same rules of conquest and victory as other models of masculine play: princesses are rescued, lovers are “won.” This article argues that the very decision to design romantic play is an act of feminist game design. Its examination of Plundered Hearts, released by Infocom in 1987 and designed by Amy Briggs, positions the contributions of romantic play as an essential part of the history of feminist games. It traces Briggs's contributions as a feminist designer, including her design of playable women characters and her engagement with nontraditional methods of play in Plundered Hearts,and contrasts her work with that of her peers.
Plundered Hearts: Infocom, Romance, and the History of Feminist Game Design
Anastasia Salter is an associate professor of games and interactive media and director of the Texts & Technology doctoral program at the University of Central Florida. She is the author of Toxic Geek Masculinity in Media (with Bridget Blodgett, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Jane Jensen: Gabriel Knight, Adventure Games, Hidden Objects (Bloomsbury, 2017); What Is Your Quest? From Adventure Games to Interactive Books (University of Iowa Press, 2014); and Flash: Building the Interactive Web (with John Murray, MIT Press, 2014). She serves on the board of directors for the Electronic Literature Organization.
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Anastasia Salter; Plundered Hearts: Infocom, Romance, and the History of Feminist Game Design. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2020; 6 (1): 66–92. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2020.6.1.66
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