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SPT 2021 – Technological imaginaries : https://lillethics.com/spt-2021/

“The Society for Philosophy and Technology Conference – June 28-30” : événement en ligne.

The gendered imaginary in retro futuristic universes of video games

Keywords : retrofuturistic, gender, video games


The retro futurist movement, and more precisely the cyberpunk movement, is a fairly recurrent theme in the video game world. Beyond their shared cybernetic heritage, cyberpunk imagines parallel universes which expand upon real-world history. In fact, through these imaginaries, which cultivate a fascination with machines and a technological utopianism, questions related to individual liberties, dehumanization, body transformation (particularly concerning gender) and transhumanism are addressed. 

Video games are a cultural medium, considered in society as a cultural and communication device. The poetry of video game narratives may seem rather inchoate and immature when compared to other narrative mediums that have older forms of expression, such as cinema and literature (Bizzocchi and Tanenbaum, 2013). However, the imagination that games provoke and the interactivity they involve turn gamers into spectactors (Weissberg, 2000), thus participating in an educational process that engages the body (Triclot, 2011). Indeed, when a gamer controls their character, part of the videogame writing process is handed over to them. In fact, the two become intertwined thus generating a network which enables a form of cross-influence: the player determines the details and the outcome of the game by intervening in the course of the story, the game imbibes the player, subjecting them to an educational experience. 

Thus, it seems interesting to discover how this interactivity operates in video games built on retro futuristic universes and aesthetics, when it comes to gender.


Bizzocchi Jim,Tanenbaum Joshua, “Mass Effect 2: A Case Study in the Design of Game Narrative”, Bulletin of Science Technology Society 20 (2012), Web, Sage Journals, April 2013. 

Genvo Sébastien, Le Jeu à son ère numérique, comprendre et analyser les jeux vidéo, Paris, L’Harmattan, coll. Communication et civilisation, 2009.

Triclot Mathieu, La Fabrique des jeux vidéo. Au coeur du gameplay, La Martinière, Paris, 2013.

Raymond Alex, « Beyond Gender Choice: Mass Effect’s Varied Inclusiveness », 2009, http://www.gamecritics.com/alex-raymond/beyond-gender-choice-mass-effects-varied-inclusiveness.

Renouvier Charles, Uchronie, l’Utopie dans l’histoire Uchronie. Esquisse historique apocryphe du développement de la civilisation européenne tel qu’il n’a pas été, tel qu’il aurait pu être, la critique philosophique, Paris, 1876. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k833574.r=renouvier%20uchronie?rk=21459;2