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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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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