This reading of ‘Diner Dash’ involved it being understood as a ‘mother’ of the genre of time-management games, a genre of which many games are stereotypically associated with women. The game was described as repetitive. Braxton stated that narrative/visual elements are often ignored in studies in favour of rule-based and ethnographic studies, and argued that ‘Diner Dash’ is based upon these narrative/visual elements, which situate it.
The difference between hardcore and casual games, we were told, was based on the learning curve, the level of abstraction, and complexity of the interface. This brought Braxton to the idea of the threat of feminisation, whereby based on masculine anxiety it being contained at a visual level meant a divide between masculine high culture and low culture, between active and passive. Braxton saw this as a re-emergence of a gendered divide between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, making it almost kitsch. Thus, the objective of this talk was to show the complexity in ‘Diner Dash’ so that previous methodology might be applied.
Braxton began by stating that the gameplay experience of this game was very similar to women’s experience temporally. This was based on an assumption that women and men are afforded the same quantity of leisure time, but women’s is more fragmented. Therefore, playing ‘Diner Dash’ fits in well with this. Also Flo’s initial experience of attempting to flee the ‘masculine’ world of suits, in which she is both empowered (starting her own business) and regressive (return to a stereotypically feminine space: being a waitress). Braxton also stated that the gameplay remains about taking orders, which hardly differs from the job she left. However, it was stated that this is a displacement of difference in favour of reinscribing familiarity.
Braxton brought up the fact that Flo is yawning when she is not doing anything, which might be connected with indifference or overwork equally. This is taken further when she is transformed into a goddess with four arms towards the end of the game: her eyes being closed are representative of her being able to do this job in that state. Yet, the idea of her having four arms means that more work can be extracted. Braxton asked us to think about whether these final ten levels were a dream sequence or not, for Flo has her eyes closed as though sleeping, and regular items are transformed into fantastical ones (chairs as hands, for example).
Finally, the ending was stated to reflect the external world of the player. The goddess must get back to her own restaurant is considered almost a wake-up call for the casual player to return to reality. Braxton said that is was tempting to read the entire sequence as a repetition-compulsion, or as a wish for more (uninterrupted) time. Time itself becomes interrupted when even the word ‘destiny’ can not be stated without being cut off.
Braxton’s final point was the idea of Flo’s character as being in a dream-within-a-dream scenario, whereby one is dreaming the real.
Questions asked regarded change of experience within the game and narrative expectations.