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."
David Kushner is the author of many books, including Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids, Levittown, The Bones of Marianna, and Alligator Candy. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.