“Gaming While Black”

We’re back in 2015 (THE YEAR OF THE FUTURE) with more sociology and gaming.  To start us off, here’s a great piece: posted on Joystiq a few days ago, Jessica Conditt’s piece “Gaming While Black” is a very informative and well put together article on the current state of race in gaming. I’d recommend checking out the whole article, as it brings up a lot of sociologically interesting facets of the lack of racial diversity in gaming, which is still a relatively not talked about thing.

Here are some great bits from the article.

One the issue of the lack of diversity in voices of color in video game media:

“The games industry is hurting badly as a creative medium in terms of diverse voices,”Treachery in Beatdown City developer Shawn Alexander Allen told me. “We don’t see many prominent black or Latino (or really any other minority populace) representation in protagonists, critics, marketing or creators. I mention prominent because while many other cultural forms like music, movies and writing have a dearth of black voices, they at least have people who are out there making their culture better at all levels and are very visible.”

It’s true. The majority of the professional industry is still predominantly white. A recent demographic survey of gaming developers attending the IGDA  found that nearly 80% of attendees reported being white.

On the issue of the isolation of gamers of color:

“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.”

On why we’re seeing racism in online gaming communities:

“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 nigger to their face, but they can almost guarantee it will happen in virtuality.”

Again, it’s a great article that is really well researched and well put together. Please go check itttt outttt.


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