VG boundaries 4

Diner Dash: The Devaluation and Feminization of Casual Games

Braxton Soderman’s, “Killing Time, Casual Games, and Gender”, points out the fact that even though the statistics on the gameplay of casual games such has Diner Dash, and Cakemania are almost equal across genders however, there’s still a feminization of casual gameplay. Most casual games are assumed to be played by women and therefore designed to fit the “needs” of women. These needs include flexibility and interruptibility, they are designed to help pass time during women busy schedules. The notion of interruptibility is complicated because casual games should employ mechanics and narratives that compliment the idea that the game should be leisurely, with the expectation that gameplay will interrupted often due to the lives of the target audience. To question the norms of casual gaming Soderman analyzes the game, Diner Dash, Soderman writes, “Yet, while the liberating move to self-employment and entrepreneurship is framed as a literal escape from aggressive, “masculine” demands… opening a restaurant as a regressive safe return to an occupation traditionally associated with women’s labor…  Diner Dash concerns the semirepetitive work of a waitress not the detailed management of a restaurant.” (pg 48)

Growing up playing this game I loved the fast pace of this game and I aspired to be like Flo, I wanted to always be moving and to satisfy others. I think that the feminization of this game is very prevalent in the mechanics and the structure. Flo leaves her job in the corporate world to open a business which initially I expected to be liberating, but we only see her completely waitress-like tasks, which could be read as feminine work, she constantly exhausted but continues on in order to make her customers happy. Flo’s essentially doing the same thing that she was doing in her other job. The structure of the game plays into female narratives where women are constantly juggling a million things to satisfy others and end up not having any leisure time. Which I find ironic that the industry targets women with casual games like Diner Dash because it’s time consuming and is the total opposite of Soderman’s definition of casual games.



SODERMAN, BRAXTON. 2017/01/01. pages38-56. No time to dream: “Killing time, Casual Games, and Gender”. GamingRepresentation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games.



One comment on “Diner Dash: The Devaluation and Feminization of Casual Games

  1. River_Scallop
    May 13, 2018

    Hi Raven,
    I understand your initial expectation for Flo’s transition from the corporate world (as a worker) to the owner of her own business to be liberating. However, I think that this promise of liberation is illusory, not because of Flo having to do feminized labor, but because under capitalism, workers are always exploited. Flo being at the top rather than a man doesn’t fundamentally change the system. Feminized labor is devalued under capitalism, but there’s no reason that this type of labor should be valued less than other forms of labor.
    I do think that the fact that Flo is constantly working in order to serve her customers can be re-interpreted as a critique of capitalism.


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This entry was posted on May 13, 2018 by in Theory & Criticism and tagged , , .

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