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Race and Videogames

A new study examines ethnic representation in videogames

1 min read

This week, we heard a lot about the "beer summit" surrounding the controversial arrest of an African-American Harvard professor in Cambridge.  Now the issue of race is also coming up in video games.

This week, a social psychologist at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California released a report called "The Virtual Census:  Representation of Gender, Race, and Age in Video Games."  The study examined characters from the top 150 games released in the past year, from Madden NFL to 50 Cent:  Blood in the Sand.

The findings - not good.  "Latino children play more video games than white children. And they're really not able to play themselves," said Dmitri Williams, who conducted the study, "For identity formation, that's a problem. And for generating interest in technology, it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve. Ironically, they may even be less likely to become game makers themselves, helping to perpetuate the cycle. Many have suggested that games function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math."

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