Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Looking For Group: Gamers of Color Sticking Together

Image description: A tweet from twitter user sourcedumal that reads "when
there are 47 long flowing hair options in character creator but 3 natural hair
options: afros, cornrows, dreads. And they all look terrible."
Writing for Endgadget, Jessica Condit gave us "Gaming While Black: From Casual Racism to Cautious Optimism", and detailed how many gamers of color have either banded together or not engaged in voice chat just to be able to keep enjoying a hobby and form of entertainment important to them because social pressures and racial harassment follow them everywhere:
“The stories Allen could tell probably wouldn't surprise Dr. Kishonna Gray. Dr. Gray is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University's School of Justice Studies, and the founder and director of EKU's Critical Gaming Lab, a hub for researching the immersive online environments within console gaming. She studies gaming and harassment from the player's point of view. "Most gamers of color have isolated themselves into private parties, private chats, or just don't engage verbally at all," Dr. Gray said. "And that's sad because they can't take full advantage of the gaming experience that they paid for. So what's happening is a virtual ghettoization of minority gamers. [...] Because a person's identity is automatically revealed when a person speaks, they are targeted. I call it linguistic profiling. As soon as someone hears how you sound, they engage in this practice. They hear how you sound and react based on that. So a lot of black gamers are called derogatory terms because of how they sound. They don't have to do anything but sound black."”
While thre are still some that would cling to the dismissive response of video games and online game not being a part of the real world, Dr. Gray disagrees:
"Gaming culture is a direct reflection of our society," she said. "The only reason racism and sexism run rampant in gaming is because racism and sexism run rampant in society. But in physical spaces, mostly, it's not overt. It's subtle. It's covert. So, yes, these issues manifest in a similar manner in gaming, but I contend that they present themselves worse. It's not subtle. It's in-your-face racism. A black person may not be called a [n word] to their face, but they can almost guarantee it will happen in virtuality."
Although the article was written in 2015, not much has changed. The entire article is a fascinating read, so go read the whole thing.

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