(Final Project) Pinterest and a New Role Playing Game

Regardless of which theory its users subscribe to, it cannot be denied that female Pinterest users are creating for themselves a new kind of role-playing game – one not dominated by mysterious faraway lands among rubble and ruin, but rather one in a perfect fantasy world where every cupcake is perfectly frosted and every outfit looks fabulous (even when that isn’t always the case – see inserted pin).

Role playing games, or RPGs, are games in which users can escape reality by assuming the roles of different virtual personas or characters. On Pinterest, a user’s real life talents, style, or interests are insignificant when she has the ability to create for herself an ideal world where she herself is the master of the oven, the epitome of a fashion statement, and the guru of all things fitness and dieting.

In fact, Pinterest goes a step further than a traditional RPG, because the site offers the option of adding user-generated content to one’s boards in addition to re-pinning the content of others. In his video and book, Larry Lessig addresses the idea of a read-write culture. At first, he says, America was a read-write culture, capable of both interpreting information and generating new, creative content. However, slowly this culture shifted to raising a read-only generation (Lessig 2007). Pinterest allows users to return to this read-write culture by giving users the option to post any materials, including those that are self-generated. In this way, Pinterest users are not confined to the limitations that a traditional RPG imposes; instead, users are changing and morphing their own personal RPGs every day with custom content.   

A second idea that Lessig poses is the idea of remixing – taking previously established content and modifying it to match one’s current needs or opinions (Lessig 2008). While traditional RPGs have standard rules and regulations for each user, Pinterest has become the center for remixing. Users have at their fingertips ideas and suggestions ranging from recipes to do-it-yourself crafts and home decorating. “There is only one way in which a person acquires a new idea: the combination or association of two more ideas he already has into a new juxtaposition in such a manner as to discover the relationship among them of which he was previously unaware” (Palmeri 2012). Because not every user follows the instructions on each of these pins exactly, hundreds of new and different projects are created each and every day by women who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to step outside of their creative comfort zones.

There has been little research completed about the idea of Pinterest as a new RPG. However, through personal experience, observation, and interviews, it is clear that Pinterest has become an escape of sorts for the modern woman – just as standard RPGs have become for millions of other people. When combined with the idea of difference feminism, this is ideal. Difference feminism would suggest that Pinterest gives female users a space to celebrate femininity regardless of how feminine a user is. Alternatively, dominance feminism would condemn this idea as a prison 

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