Video games are one of the most widespread, profitable, and influential cultural forms in the U.S. Their rise to cultural dominance comes about at the same time as changing notions of race and gender in the U.S., such as liberal multiculturalism, the feminist movement, post-racialism, post-feminism, and a growing multiracial population. This course will avoid categorizing games as having positive or negative social effects, instead focusing on how race and racism have been expressed in a variety of types and styles of video games; how video games function as a window into U.S. race relations. We will look at the history, theory, and practice of video games in the U.S. with particular attention to racial stereotyping, user demographics, racial conflict in shared world and social games. The class will end with an examination of “serious” games and the potential of game texts, environments, and communities to help remediate social inequality.
Three short papers, participation in on-line forums, a take-home midterm and final exam, as well as active class participation. Students may also be required to log gameplay time on assigned digital games.
American Culture majors, Ethnic Studies majors (APIA, DAAS, Latina/o, Native American), Screen Arts & Cultures majors, Womens Studies majors, digital environments students, as well as a general audience.