Terminal and the Center of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University are pleased to announce the launch of Chastity and The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft by Angela Washko. Washko is the recipient of a 2012 – 2013 Terminal Award. The Terminal Award is granted annually to four artists to help in the creation of new internet based artworks.
Mobilizing communities and using play, I am an artist and facilitator creating new forums for discussions of feminism where and when they do not exist. These forums are created through actions, interventions, videos, and performances- sometimes in video games. I am dedicated to researching and ultimately changing unhealthy, unrealistic, limited, and object-oriented projections of women throughout different forms of media by creating public works that challenge our implicit acceptance of everyday inequality.
My most recent project, “The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness In World of Warcraft,” is a long-term research-based initiative I launched to create spaces for dialogue about feminism inside a video game with a community that is notoriously misogynistic and aggressive toward women. I am interested in the unusual political space that evolves within WoW. It takes quite a lot of effort to ever break into the social aspects of the game. One has to make a fairly serious commitment to the game (undergoing lengthy tutorials, quests, learning characters’ skills, finding equipment, fighting dragons/goblins etc.) to ever make it to the point where they are in a guild and regularly communicating with large groups of people. Because of that barrier between the committed and the dabblers, a unique social community is created in each realm of World of Warcraft that few know about, despite the game’s widespread popularity. The blatant discrimination, homophobia, and extreme sexism that persist are not a result of the developers’ aesthetics, but the community of avatar-hidden individuals that play it. I am creating videos from performances inside of World of Warcraft that investigate the relationship between female players and the intensely complex social communities within WOW. I am working on instituting a system in which players in my community are forced to take responsibility for their oppressive behavior, help to create an environment that encourages women gamers to participate, and present performances and videos to a non-MMO-informed public that is unaware that these communities exist.