Jessica’s talk was on gaming mothers, a three-year project on how they juggle time, play and family. The research is based on an awareness that there is currently no other research on gaming mothers. There is, however, Jessica stated, some research on older gamers.
The research itself is based upon what people do in everyday life (and the outcomes of this) and how new communication patterns may be formed through the combination of play and everyday life. The research involves discourse analysis, participant observation, emails, interviews, qualitative face-to-face, and game lab setups. Something that they found from this was that gaming life was very much considered to be interconnected with everyday life.
Jessica showed us a Mountain Dew commercial in which two women are at a supermarket, notice that each is buying the opposing coloured Mountain Dew and break out into World of Warcraft characters. This was shown as an example of play mixing in with/becoming part of the everyday.
The idea of the mother, Jessica explained, was a fixed role. The mother was expected to be policing or supportive, and certainly outside of gaming discourse. Jessica stated that she found that gaming mothers mostly played alone, to have time to themselves, even when playing online games such as WoW. Jessica asked what productivity meant with relation to gaming mothers and suggested that productivity lies away from established norms.
Gaming mothers tended to give sensible reasons for playing when asked, such as to relax or to spend time with the children. Also worth a mention here is the weightloss club “Wii Mommies” in which the Wii Fit system was used to lose weight, with consistent reports of weight loss.
The way gaming mothers talk about play, Jessica stated, is interesting because it’s as though they make excuses for play. An Example cited included it not being fair on others if they stop playing. Jessica said that excuses are made for playing in the first place and also for continuing play. She also asked why it is that they speak this way, and why it is hard to accept or admit that they actually like playing rather than playing games to be good for them or for pragmatic purposes.
Questions included how many of these mothers brought the consoles into the household, how this play affected the family, why you would choose to play alone, and the decrease of play with age.