Buffoons, Goons, and Pixelated Minstrels: The Digital Story That Games Tell

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Kishonna Gray

Kishonna L Gray, Ph.D.

Fellow, Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
@KishonnaGray
Speaker Website
MITH Conference Room
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
12:30 pm

As racial projects, video games legitimize white masculinity and hegemonic ideology through the ‘othering’ process. This is performed via pixelated minstrelsy by depicting Black and Brown bodies as objects to be destroyed and women as bodies to be dominated. The mediated story of Black characters is limited and situated within buffoonery (comedy) or crime and gaming is not exempt. Media outlets have created essentialist notions about Blackness and what it means to have an ‘authentic’ Black experience. And because there are limited counter-narratives, this singular story only confirms hegemonic notions of what it means to be Black.

See below for a Storify recap of this Digital Dialogue, including live tweets and select resources referenced by Gray during her talk.

Dr. Gray is visiting MIT as a MLK Scholar and Assistant Professor for the 2016-17 academic year. Additionally, she is a fellow at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and a Faculty Visitor at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research (Cambridge).

Her work broadly intersects identity and digital media with a particular focus on video games and gaming culture. By examining game context and culture, her most recent book, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live, examines the reality of women and people of color in one of the largest gaming communities.

Gray has published in a variety of outlets, both academic and public. Her work has been featured in the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, ADA: A Journal of New Media and Technology, the Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society, the New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, and others.

A continuously updated schedule of talks is also available on the Digital Dialogues webpage.

Unable to attend the events in person? Archived podcasts can be found on the MITH website, and you can follow our Digital Dialogues Twitter account @digdialog as well as the Twitter hashtag #mithdd to keep up with live tweets from our sessions. Viewers can watch the live stream as well.

All talks free and open to the public. Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunches.

Contact: MITH (mith.umd.edu, mith@umd.edu, 301.405.8927).