The web marriage game, the gendered self, and Chinese modernity

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8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the web-based virtual marriage game craze that emerged in the 1990s. These online interactive games may have opened up moments of liberation and formulated new ideologies of sexual relations. However, web-based marriages only ensure a male-dominated system and conform to dominant patriarchal standards - regardless of the number of females involved. Re-enacting the rules of marriage, the cyber game is ideologically directed against free unions, mobility, promiscuity, and parafamilial fluidity - all in order to stabilize individuals for reasons of social and political control; at the same time, it promotes the acquisition of skills needed by individual players in a free market, as if paralleling the drastic re-articulation of the economy. I understand the virtual game to be a safe haven for both China and the Chinese people to imagine that they can re-strengthen and re-virilize themselves in a rapidly changing world. They co-fabricate a depthless interface or a pure semblance of a looming powerful China ruled by a male-oriented system. Just as China dreams of achieving modernity through a consistent, dependable, controlled, and 'clean' path, the virtual reality of the marriage game reveals a social imaginary in which contemporary Chinese people picture their social existence in an unstable transitional moment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-403
Number of pages23
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Foucault
  • Masculinity
  • Modernity
  • Online computer game
  • Self
  • Web marriage


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