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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gamic Race: Logics of Difference in Videogame Culture

  • Author(s): Higgin, Tanner
  • Advisor(s): Tobias, James
  • et al.

Gamic Race: Logics of Difference in Videogame Culture makes race central to the study of videogames and videogame cultures. The project emphasizes the need for critical race theory in game studies to understand how race is informed and reshaped by the logics of gameplay resulting in the multi-layered, politically complex, and agile concept of gamic race. Displaced racialization, the project's other key concept, revises former studies of race in digital media that focus predominantly on representation, shifting interest to racialization occurring alongside or beyond bodies within game code and player experience. Moving along this trajectory, the first three chapters of Gamic Race explore different layers of gamic race and its formulation through displaced racialization: spatial, technologic, and discursive. The final chapter attempts to put theory into practice via an analysis of racially inflammatory raids of virtual worlds by users of the popular message board 4chan. These raids serve as a compelling but flawed model for future progressive performative interventions in gamespace.  The conclusion considers how to progressively transform videogame design by placing African American expressive traditions, indie games, ethics, philosophy, and the interaction design of Erik Loyer in conversation. It's within this nexus that the project ends, gesturing toward a future paradigm of interaction and aesthetics within videogames that handles difference productively, and does not rely solely on strategies of visual inclusion.

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