Mama Ludens Goes All-In: Gaming Mothers, Fun and the Ludic Revolution

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This paper investigates gaming mothers' playing practices, trying to identify their ideas of fun and playfulness. It is a work in progress, the third in a series of empirical studies performed within the framework of the project "Gaming Moms: Juggling Time, Play and Family Life" (Enevold & Hagström, Lund University) undertaken with the aim to revise the usual constructions of gamer identities and examine the contested status of gaming in everyday life. The first paper produced in this project was a critical survey of representations of mothers in popular cultural gaming discourses (Enevold & Hagström 2008) that showed a rather conservative picture of "Mom" in relation to gaming. The dominant image of the mother in this public discourse is far from general notions of fun—she is the police who controls or condemns the playing of others. The second effort (Enevold, Hagström & Aarseth 2008) was a pilot study presenting findings from a small number of interviews with gaming mothers that showed that their gameplay to a great extent involved gendered ideas of work and family roles, particularly time and place constraints. The emphasis lay very much on playing for the sake of relaxation while waiting for something else—for the pasta to cook, for the kids to come home, or in between dinner and putting the kids to bed. Going back to some of the interviews and including a number of new ones, this paper deals with that which was not explicitly or extensively discussed in those interviews, namely what these women think of fun and play. This is related to four themes of gendered sociality, representational exclusion and accessibility in terms of game content and time constraints of gaming - which is understood as a motor of fun – as represented in research, media and web material concerning mothers, fun and videogames. Based on all this material, I conclude that fun in most instances still means relaxation, having time to yourself, being mentally stimulated by a puzzle or a good story. I thus advocate ludic fun for all – do away with the gendered division of labor, play and gamer identity; redefine the concept of gamer once and for all; let gaming become mass culture and allow mothers all over the world to relax "playing for keeps"; bring on the ludic revolution!


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ethnology


  • gaming moms, play, fun, emotions, gaming, gender, player, ludic fun, mama ludens, playful, ludic revolution
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
EventPlayful Experiences - University of Tampere, Finland
Duration: 2009 Apr 22009 Apr 3


ConferencePlayful Experiences
CityUniversity of Tampere

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