following quote ]: “ recent content analyses demonstrate W r i t i n g
The goal of class preps is to prepare you for class by training you to read for big ideas, identify the key concepts and the main argument, and identify provocative passages relevant to the main argument. Class preps are meant to measure your understanding of the main ideas in a text; therefore, there should be no personal opinion in preps. They should be approximately half a page (double spaced) and no more than 1 page in length. Submit them to the corresponding learning module in Blackboard in which your reading appears. Though your class prep will not be visible to the rest of the class, we reserve the right to ask you to share from them in class, so please be prepared to talk about them.
- keywords – look at the keyword listed for the day of class corresponding to your reading; explain its meaning according to the course readings (you may need to draw from the other reading listed for the same day)
- main argument – give a short synopsis (2-3 sentences at most) of the main argument (or main ideas) of the reading
- passage/quote – retype a short quote (be selective!) from the reading that is particularly interesting, provocative, or indicative of the main argument. Explain why you chose it.
Read: Gabriela Richard and Kishonna Gray, “Gendered Play, Racialized Reality: Black Cyberfeminism, Inclusive Communities of Practice, and the Intersections of Learning, Socialization, and Resilience in Online Gaming
With the Gabriela T. Richard and Kishonna L. Gray reading, we continue our unit focused on “system failure” by looking at questions of gatekeeping in relation both to 1) who is represented and how they are represented in video games and also 2) who is involved behind-the-scenes in game creation and what forms of gatekeeping discipline the way that womxn and girls of color engage as gamers.
First, bridging back to the ways we have already talked about forms of gatekeeping: Recall our discussion of online harassment as a particular form of misogyny we have seen in popular culture and digital environments. We talked about this at the beginning of unit 3, on the day that we did the #upskirt reading focused on the keyword “surveillance.” In Activity 3.1, you listened to the podcast exchange between an online writer who had been harassed and her harasser who was apologizing. He specifically admitted that he attacked her because she was a confident woman who was unafraid to write about being fat and feminist.
In our current unit, we have also talked about video games and the misogyny in them. We looked at a youtube video produced by Anita Sarkeesian on the channel Feminist Frequency. I mentioned in that video that Sarkeesian has faced extreme forms of harassment – both online and “in real life” – simply in response to her commentaries on video games. This sort of violent backlash faced by female and feminist gamers is called “gamergate” and it is covered in the documentary GTFO. The clip we are viewing in conjunction with Reading 4.4 is focused on the video game industry and questions of representation, but I recommend you also watch the beginning of the documentary, and specifically around the 10-minute mark, if you’d like to hear more about gamergate and the online harassment and violence Anita Sarkeesian faced. You’ll follow up on that in this unit with Activity 4.3 to look more specifically at the idea of “gamergate” and the online harassment that feminists can face.
Moving on to the keyword for this reading, and the question of gatekeeping, let’s take a look at the way Richard and Gray discuss it: “Gatekeeping practices in online gaming have often policed and subjugated women and players of color, across gender identities and sexualities. This has happened through racialized and sexualized scripts that dominate character representation in game production and distribution. And this has also happened through the norms that are fostered through prevalent, hegemonic practice” (R&G 138). In other words, they are interested both in how games are produced and in how players engage them – what are the norms among players – and how do these structural factors combine with representational disparities to impact who is allowed access to games and how people are invited to and/or excluded from video games and gaming?
There are 4 key points I want to highlight from the reading:
- Representation matters. Who is literally represented in video games? [In the zoom video, we look at the following quote]: “Recent content analyses demonstrate that male characters make up more than 85% of playable characters and White characters make up more than 80% of playable characters. Even worse are the statistics for female characters of color, of which 10% are African American, 7% are Asian, about 1% are Native American, and Latinas are almost nonexistent” (R&G 118-119).
Richard and Gray also make the point that conversations about representation in video games have so far largely excluded race as part of the analysis. They therefore use a Black cyberfeminist theoretical framework that emphasizes the importance of intersectionality as discussed by Kimberlé Crenshaw in conjunction with Reading 1.4.
- The article also looks at the fact that people of color are underrepresented in video game development, despite playing a key role in launching and popularizing video and arcade games at their inception. Black and Latinx students, also have typically faced barriers to accessing computing and technology education as well as barriers to being hiring into the industry (see R&G, p. 120).
- We discussed the authors’ claim that how people are represented in video games impacts perceptions and realities in the “real” material world (and we looked at the following quote, from p. 122): “Black cyberfeminism requires understanding the diverse ways that oppression can manifest in the materiality of the body and how this translates into virtual spaces” (R&G 122).
- Finally, Richard and Gray highlight organizing and online activism by looking at the following quote from Richard and Gray: strategies include getting more rep in those who are making video games (e.g., Black Girls Code), forming communities of gamers to play together and challenge gaming culture and raising awareness. We also looked at the following quote from Richard and Gray: “Black Cyberfeminism also addresses the distinct nature of how women utilize virtual technologies. Women have used social media for activism and change as well as to advance contemporary feminism. … The tenets of Cyberfeminism never detach the personal from the structural or the communal” (123). Above all, they advocate, as many of our readings do, for maintaining a structural/institutional focus on oppression (rather than seeing it as an individual issue of harassment).
Watch this clip from GTFO: Get the F**k Out – a documentary that explores some of these issues within the gaming industry.
Here are links to some of the youtube videos referenced in the zoom lecture – check them out for supplemental info and arguments aligned with the Richard and Gray article:
Black Women in Video Games – On Skin Tone Choices (Links to an external site.)
Why are there no Black Women in Video Games? (Links to an external site.)
Black Girl Gamers | Do They Exist??? (Links to an external site.)