Tekken’s Mokujin and the Disjunctive Synthesis of Gender Performativity

  • Vasileios Galanos Mr


Given the ever-growing array of available choices of genders in games, this paper investigates how novel gender types emerge and how the performative transition from one gender to another occurs. A fighting video game character, Tekken’s Mokujin, is employed as a metaphor to explain such processes because of the character’s ability to imitate every other character’s fighting style according to an algorithm which randomly switches Mokujin’s fighting performance in the beginning of every game round. The Mokujin-gender metaphor is then strengthened by philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s notion of disjunctive synthesis, as an attempt to provide a more robust theoretical explanatory framework for the processes of novel gender generation and selection of gender performativity. Therefore, the contribution of this paper is twofold. On the one hand, the specific area of gender performativity is enriched through the study of a video game character acting as a metaphor. On the other, while traditional game studies often intersects with gender studies, mostly in negative cases of the perpetuation of gender stereotypes, this paper shows that the opposite is also possible: Gender studies can benefit from the study of fictitious video game characters that enact, embody, and enable different possibilities.

June 8, 2020