Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice

Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice


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From #Gamergate to the 2016 election, to the daily experiences of marginalized perspectives, gaming is entangled with mainstream cultures of systematic exploitation and oppression. Whether visible in the persistent color line that shapes the production, dissemination, and legitimization of dominant stereotypes within the industry itself, or in the dehumanizing representations often found within game spaces, many video games perpetuate injustice and mirror the inequities and violence that permeate society as a whole.

Drawing from groundbreaking research on counter and oppositional gaming and from popular games such as World of Warcraft and Tomb Raider, Woke Gaming examines resistance to problematic spaces of violence, discrimination, and microaggressions in gaming culture. The contributors of these essays seek to identify strategies to detox gaming culture and orient players and gamers toward progressive ends. From Anna Anthropy’s Keep Me Occupied to Momo Pixel’s Hair Nah, video games can reveal the power and potential for marginalized communities to resist, and otherwise challenge dehumanizing representations inside and outside of game spaces.

In a moment of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and efforts to transform current political realities, Woke Gaming illustrates the power and potential of video games to foster change and become a catalyst for social justice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295744179
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication date: 11/13/2018
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,051,054
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kishonna L. Gray is assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies and Communication at the University of Illinois–Chicago. She is the author of Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live: Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margins and a featured blogger and podcaster with “Not Your Mama’s Gamer.” David J. Leonard is a professor at Washington State University. He is the author of several books, including Playing While White: Privilege and Power on and off the Field. Follow him on twitter @drdavidjleonard.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Not a Post-Racism and Post-Misogyny Promised Land: Video Games as Instruments of (In)Justice Kishonna L. Gray David J. Leonard 3

Part 1 Ethics, Violence, And Oppositional Gaming

Chapter 1 The Corporeal Ethics of Gaming: Vulnerability, Mobility, and Social Gaming Rob Cover 27

Chapter 2 Power, Violence, and the Mask: Representations of Criminal Subjectivities in Grand Theft Auto Online Timothy Rowlands Sheruni Ratnabalasuriar Melissa Hobart Kyle Noel Shaun-Patrick Allen Briana Reed Anthony Gonzales 45

Part 2 Economics Of Gaming

Chapter 3 The Post-Feminist Politics of the "Everyone Can Make Games Movement" Stephanie Orme 65

Chapter 4 Smart Play: Social Stereotypes, Identity Building, and Counter Narratives of Gold Farmers in China Zixue Tai Fengbin Hu 82

Part 3 Feminist Gaming

Chapter 5 The Sobering Reality of Sexism in the Video Game Industry Stanislav Vysotsky Jennifer Helen Allaway 101

Chapter 6 The Perpetual Crusade: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Religious Extremism, and the Problem of Empire Kristin Bezio 119

Chapter 7 Nancy Drew and the Case of Girl Games Andrea Braithwaite 139

Chapter 8 The Horrors of Transcendent Knowledge: A Feminist-Epistemological Approach to Video Games Stephanie C. Jennings 155

Part 4 Gaming Against The Grain

Chapter 9 Playing with Pride: Claiming Space Through Community Building in World of Warcraft Karen Skardzius 175

Chapter 10 Curate Your Culture: A Call for Social Justice-Oriented Game Development and Community Management Amanda C. Cote 193

Chapter 11 The Legends of Zelda: Fan Challenges to Dominant Video Game Narratives Kathryn Hemmann 213

Part 5 Empathetic And Inclusive Gaming

Chapter 12 Avatars: Addressing Racism and Racialized Address Robbie For Dyce Timothy Neale Thomas Apperley 231

Chapter 13 Activism in Video Games: A New Voice for Social Change Taylor Anderson-Barkley Kira Foglesong 252

Chapter 14 DiscrimiNation: A Persuasive Board Game to Challenge Discriminatory Justifications and Prejudices Maresa Bertolo Ilaria Mariani Eleonora Alberello Conti 270

List of Contributors 293

Index 296

What People are Saying About This

T. L. Taylor

A groundbreaking and important book for anyone who cares about the future of media. Through case studies and smart analysis it offers much-needed critical intervention into our understanding of gaming and game culture.

Henry Jenkins

Woke Gaming’s editors and contributors combine thoughtful and informed critiques of the contemporary game industry’s representational strategies, genre conventions, and employment practices with advocacy for groups that seek to promote a more diverse and inclusive culture through alternative game design, modding, fan fiction, games guilds, and much more. Written in the face of the Gamergate backlash against ‘social justice warriors,’ Woke Gaming offers a vivid snapshot of the struggles to change this powerful entertainment medium and to help it achieve its greater potential.

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