Grad student creates video game to fight ‘toxic masculinity’


To fulfill a requirement toward earning a Master’s degree from a California college, a recent graduate developed a video game designed to combat “toxic masculinity.”

Taylor Sandusky created the open-source video game “Plato’s Evil Closet” for her Master’s thesis in Computer Science at Mills College in Oakland, Calif. Sandusky’s goal was to “use video games to challenge white heteropatriarchy,” Campus Reform reported.

According to Sandusky, Plato’s Evil Closet is a “challenging non-violent dungeon crawler that stars a queer woman of color and acts as a metaphor for fighting white heteropatriarchy — at its core, a system that privileges whiteness, heterosexuality and masculinity.”

Furthermore, Sandusky wrote in the thesis, “The dungeon represents white heteropatriarchy, and the various monsters represent aspects of this system.” A player can win the game only after collecting a “diverse set” of friends while in the dungeon.

“In order to escape the dungeon, the player needs at least two friends. If they try to exit before meeting this requirement, they are informed that the door is too heavy,” Sandusky wrote. “This is intended to represent the importance of solidarity. One person, or group, cannot escape the dungeon, or patriarchy, without the help of others.”

Deliberately eschewing violence and competition, Sandusky designed her game to appeal to academics, who have been critical of such content in other video games.

“By taking a traditionally violent genre like dungeon crawler and removing the player’s ability to kill enemies, I aim to prove video games do not have to be violent to be fun,” Sandusky wrote.

“By making a hard yet nonviolent game, I challenge ideas about casual and hardcore games and their gendered nature,” Sandusky noted. “By including diverse characters and constructing the dungeon as a metaphor for patriarchy, I… provide underrepresented players a character and story with which they can hopefully relate.”

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