First-Person Perspective and the Untroubled Gaze


The other day I was playing Fallout 3, and in my zeal to kill as many guards as possible before escaping Vault 101, I switched to third person perspective. It was jarring, but I decided to give it a shot: it had been awhile since I’ve played any games in the third-person perspective, and thought I’d give it a try. This is when I realized something about myself as a gamer: I hate playing in third-person now.

Okay, well “hate” is a strong word. I greatly prefer playing in first-person for all my shooter game needs. Third-person feels…wrong, somehow. This is weird, right? I didn’t always feel this way. ….

For me, it comes down to character identification. I’ve written before on the importance of character selection for me as a feminist, but perspective is a different situation. In spectator theory and feminism, Laura Mulvey and Mary Anne Doanne both assert that female spectators have a troubled identification process with a character on screen, as they are often forced into either a “passive or masochistic position,” to quote Doanne from her article Film and Masquerade.

Read the full article and join in the discussion over at Medium Difficulty!

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2 Comments on “First-Person Perspective and the Untroubled Gaze”

  1. I just finished playing through Gears of War 3 again. As a male with noodly arms who has never sworn at someone to their face, I found it best to imagine I was participating in a really long 80′s action movie with a really high budget.

    • It would such a great 80s action movie, absolutely! I originally played Gears of War during my undergrad, and I played co-op the whole time, so it was an entirely different experience for me. GoW is a fantastic game, and was definitely part of my experience before I became too focused on 1st-person perspective, I think.

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