Video Game Artist Visiting ‘Open World’ Exhibit at Akron Art Museum

Video game artist and Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Angela Washko will speak at the museum.


(Courtesy of Angela Washko. Installation photo: Chris Rutan Photography)

Two visitors observe Angela Washko’s performances for video based on the popular role-playing game World of Warcraft.

By Jessica Ricks, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Video game artists Angela Washko will speak at the Akron Art Museum on Nov. 9 from 2 to 3 p.m. to cover an interdisciplinary approach to feminism by combining installation art, video performance and game-making

The museum’s current exhibit Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art includes several of Washko’s installations. These use snippets of gameplay from both World of Warcraft and The Sims to portray attitudes toward gender both in and out of video games.

Washko’s World of Warcraft recordings, “Nature,” “Playing a Girl” and “FEMI NAZIS” feature the artist communicating with other players about their definitions of gender in the online role-playing game.

Theresa Bembnister, the curator of exhibitions for the museum, said Washko is a skilled player in the World of Warcraft game and despite her accomplishments, players tend to treat her differently when they find out she is a female.

In addition, Bembnister also noted that 46 percent of the people who play video games identify as female.

“Game environments can be unfriendly toward women,” Bembnister said. “Washko’s work provides a platform to discuss the causes and effects of poor treatment of women within games.”

Washko’s video installation “You’re Either In or Out,” also on display in the exhibit, analyzes this notion even further.

(Courtesy of Angela Washko)
Washko’s installation “You’re Either In or Out” from her Free Will Mode (2014) series examines traditional gender roles and associations.

In this piece, she builds a house with no doors and places male sims outside and female sims inside as a nod to the historical associations of men with the outdoors and women with domesticity.

Admission to Washko’s talk is free for museum members and Zip card holders. Non-member admission is $12. Washko’s work will be on display at the museum through February 2020.