Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional Perspectives and Inclusive Designs in Gaming



Publisher Name

ETC Press

Publisher Location

Pittsburgh, PA


Digital gaming has become a prominent part of mainstream culture. However, as one may observe in the public exhibitions of this form of play, the multitude of reasons for participation in the games industry are especially divided along gender lines. This paper is an analysis of themes emerging from the critical ethnographic examination of South Korea’s1 online game culture that, upon closer and iterative analyses, point to additional socioeconomic complications and systemic barriers to women’s equitable participation in the game development and production. Using South Korea’s national context as a point of reference, the findings from this case study offer a synthesis between educational policies and industry practices that implicate how labor originating from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines may include crucial systemic barriers to women’s participation in the aspects of game culture contributing the most to upward mobility. The findings illustrate that factors (such as compulsory military service) that are typically overlooked in policy research are imperative to understanding how specific structural systems serve to reinforce existing gender norms. These factors go beyond gender disparities, pipeline issues and problems of representation that preclude female’s substantive involvement in the game industry.




Author Posting. © ETC Press, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of ETC Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional Perspectives and Inclusive Designs in Gaming, (2016)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.