When Jenn Frank posed a “what if” question on Twitter late last month, the thread that followed became an impromptu think tank. Frank works for Unwinnable, a website that dissects the gaming world and its trends, and she was throwing out hypotheticals about video games that featured breasts in a non-sexual way. Would people play them?
People responded that yes, they would. And it got her thinking:
“What would happen if we collectively took a ‘boob’ out of the normative, mainstream view—which is to say, as a sexual object for straight cisgender men—and instead described our own relationships, sometimes sexual and often not, with our own racks?”
That same day, she built the website for The Boob Jam, Frank’s new platform for developing games that take breasts out of the realm of the male gaze, and put them in a different context. Last summer, Frank wrote about the complicated relationship between feminism and gaming, and in April, she wrote about her complicated relationship with breasts. On the site, she breaks it down further:
“What do boobs mean to a new mother, or to a new woman? To a person in actual, physical pain? What might they mean to a real superhero or armor-clad warrior? Or, if boobs really are sexual objects, who, besides straight dudes, can sexualize them?”
The misogyny in the gaming world has been well-documented; the ongoing threats against Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian, and the work she’s done to dismantle female tropes in video games, are just one entry in a larger journal of contempt for women who play or develop games. The gender bias in gaming has been parodied, but it’s also been explored from different perspectives lately. The idea of women as only sexual playthings or damsels in distress has reached its inevitable tipping point, and Frank’s project is reaching the right people at the right time. And it’s time, she says, to take back our tits.
The Boob Jam is a “long jam.” You can submit your own idea for games, as long as they’re in by September 30. Then, the best game will be chosen from the lot, and developed. The site is already showcasing a few submissions, like Sleeping with Boobs, which gives you three options for sleeping positions, and Alice & Joe, a short that can be played from a male and female perspective.
Photo via Bludgeoner86/Flickr