Monday, August 07, 2006
race and video games

Are you interested in video games?

Are you interested in issues of race and its portrayal in various media?

If your answer to both of these questions is "yes", then check out this most excellent reflection on the convergence of those topics, written by Pat Miller.

An interesting quote:

Whether we like it or not, race, like sexuality, is intricately woven throughout our videogames, and we re astonishingly capable of ignoring it even when it's staring us in the face. We have no problem assigning essentialist, natural meaning to racial categories when we're rolling our D&D characters; trolls are strong, elves are agile, "humans" can do pretty much everything. But could we ever, in good conscience, write "black" on our character sheet because we need the strength bonus?

For those of you too lazy to read the entire article, Miller observes that despite the continuing sophistication and "maturing" of the video games, both the industry and the larger gamer community continue to show a lack of understanding of issues of race - everything from the portrayal of certain characters and stereotypes in video games, to the cavalier way that gamers often use racial ephitets like "nigger" or "chink" in chat.


Of course, given the average gamer demographic (young, white, male, hetereosexual, suburban, middle - upper class) is it any wonder that the community of gamers is largely ignorant of racial issues?

After all, for most of these gamers, their education about the reality of racism is limited to the annual MLK Jr. assembly that happened in high school or junior high. The controversial Sony white PSP ad campaign raised quite a few eyebrows around the world, but the response/comments from the gamer community ranged from passive indifference to even outright support using the dubious logic of "I'm not racist, and I don't think this ad is racist, so therefore, YOU MUST BE RACIST!".

For a community that seems enamored with promoting that its hobby is "more intelligent" than others, there's a certain irony to the fact that in matters of race, racism, and social justice, it's still just as backward as the rest of the world.


RACE AND VIDEO GAMES!! definitely an overlooked topic. i think i read the Nakamura piece he cited, back when i was in grad school and planning on writing about Asian Am blogs. interesting stuff...
^ dks
hey there. thanks for the shoutout, thanks for stopping by.

i like some of the music you're listening to, incidentally. i actually ran into verbal (of m-flo/teriyaki boyz fame) during a recent semester in tokyo. fun stuff.

-pat m.
I feel like I should respond with messaging, but I'll wait until I start my new job on Monday.
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