Racism, Sexism, and Video Games: Social Justice Campaigns and the Struggle for Gamer Identity by Lisa Nakamura


July 31st, 2014

October 15, 2014 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Kellogg Conference Center, Big Ten B
219 South Harrison Road
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Welcome and Introductions by Professors Carrie Heeter and William Dutton, Director of the Quello Center
Lecture by Lisa Nakamura
Respondents: Rabindra Ratan and Mia Consalvo

6:00pm: Coffee, tea and light refreshments available for informal discussion
7:00pm: Lecture
8:00pm: Drinks and reception

This Quello Lecture was organised by MSU’s Quello Center to support and help launch the 2014 Meaningful Play Conference in East Lansing, Michigan. Professor Nakamura will raise key issues around race and gender within and beyond the context of games that should stimulate discussion on approaches to addressing these concerns in ways that respect the open and collaborative traditions of expression online.

nakamura‘Racism, Sexism, and Video Games: Social Justice Campaigns and the Struggle for Gamer Identity’

The identity of the video gamer as young, straight, white, and male is changing to reflect a more diverse group of users, but this transition has been accompanied by struggle and conflict. This August, gaming journalist Leigh Alexander declared that “‘Gamers’ are over,” but women and minorities still face significant harassment from other players in pseudonymous multiplayer environments. This talk will analyze how social media platforms such as Tumblr.com, a site that is particularly popular with women, have been successfully deployed by so-called “social justice warriors” to bring awareness to this problem by publicizing egregious examples of sexist and racist harassment suffered by female gamers and gamers of color. The popularity of sites like Fatuglyorslutty.com and StraightWhiteBoysTexting.tumblr.com force us to consider how we must balance privacy and accountability in a pseudonymous social media ecosystem.

Lisa Nakamura is the Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Cultures and Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (University of Minnesota Press: winner of the Asian American Studies Association 2010 book award in cultural studies), Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002) and co-editor of Race in Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000) and Race After the Internet (Routledge, 2011). She is writing a monograph on social inequality in digital media history and culture entitled Workers Without Bodies: Race, Gender, and Digital Labor. She is a co-facilitator for FemTechNet, an experiment in open feminist education (femtechnet.newschool.edu) and serves as the Coordinator and Student Advisor for the Digital Studies initiative in the Department of American Cultures at the University of Michigan.

Rabindra (“Robby”) Ratan is an Assistant Professor and AT&T Scholar at Michigan State University’s Department of Media and Information.

Mia Consalvo is the Canada Research Chair in Game Studies & Design at the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University.



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