Race and the Digital: Racial Formation and 21st Century Technologies

"Intersecting Oppressions and Online Communities" by Eduardo D. Garcia

Media Summary

Both of these articles touch upon on the #Gamergate controversy that occurred back in 2014. "What is Gamergate, and Why?: An Explainer for Non-Geeks" by Jay Hathaway looks at the #Gamergate in a negative way by calling the Gamegate movement, a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics. But there are a lot of reasons not to regard the movement generously." The second article titled "Understanding pro and anti-Gamergate," by Andrew Otton looks at both arguments from Gamergate supporters and detractors.

Reading Summary

Citation: Kishonna L. Gray (2012) INTERSECTING OPPRESSIONS AND ONLINE COMMUNITIES, Information, Communication & Society, 15:3, 411-428.

                In “Intersecting Oppressions and Online Communities: Examining the experience of women in XBOX Live,” Kishonna L. Gray looks at how women of color experience oppression in Xbox Live, which is an online community.

The Female Gamer Experience
The author begins by telling her experience as a Black woman playing video games and once they knew she was a woman, players started to berate her. Some of their insults were; “You’re a fucking girl! What the fuck are you doing in my room?” (Gray  412). Once they knew she was Black, the players started insulting her by saying racial insults. The insult deserves to be quoted in full to show the racial and misogynist tone, “Wait wait wait. You’re not just any girl. You’re black. Get this black bitch off my team… Did you spend all your welfare check before buying this game? … Get back to your crack pipe with our crack babies” (Gray 412).

Hegemony in video games
There have been hegemonic ideals in videogames. Gray gives an example of a type of character in EverQuest, an MMORPG, called the Erudites. They “were from a segregated continent that was smaller, less appealing and far less populated than the White continent” (Gray 413). However, when race and ethnicity is going to be brought on in a videogame, it is often met with resistance. Gray states that, “Blackness in MMORPG’s is intentionally ignored to avoid critical issues associated with the other” (Gray 414). Basically, when it comes to video games, race is being ignored.

Online Disinhibition fuels virtual inequality
In this section, Gray defines terms that are used to make the virtual world a bad place. Gray defines killer, who derives pleasure by imposing his/her self on other by player killing (Gray 414). Then there is flaming which refers to negative antisocial behaviors, including the expression of hostility, the use of profanity, and the venting of strong emotions (414). Gray also mentions that they are six factors that led to online disinhibition such as dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asychroncity, solipsistic introjections, dissociative imagination, and minimization of status and authority.

Linguistic profiling
Gray defines linguistic profiling when “auditory cues as opposed to visual cues are used to confirm and/or speculate on the racial background of an individual” (Gray 416). An example of this happening is when Gray’s team members heard her speaking and formulated that she was Black.

The Clans/Guilds
Gray interviewed twelve women, eight African-American and four Puerto Ricans (Gray 418). Some of these women created clans- “as seen in computer gaming and is a group of players who play together in online gaming” (418). They do this so they do not have to experience misogynistic and racial insults. Gray even states that, “clan membership is imperative to women in Xbox Live to ensure a positive gaming experience” (418). The Puerto Rican clan, The Puerto Reekan Killaz “created a space that is essentially free from racism, sexism, heterosexism, and nativism” (Gray 420). They, in essence, want to create a safe space. They are other clans like Militant Misses (MM) who would “rather play with males and endure racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other inequalities” (Gray 421). MM’s solution to end the inequalities is that they have to become better gamers. White female players do not even acknowledge that they are being oppressed or rub it off and call it the gaming experience.


 The article shows how intersectionality plays a role in the virtual community. With Gray's anecdote in the beginning, it shows how male gamers treat female gamers in online communities. Her teammates not only insulted her because she was a woman, once they knew she was Black, they added in racist remarks. Another point in Gray's article that took the intersectional lens is how different women from different ethnic groups faced different types of discrimination. Gray states, "Specifically, Latina women within the space experience nativism, racism, and even heterosexism as many identify as sexual minorities. African-American women experience racialized sexism stemming from the duality of their ascribed identities" (Gray 411). When it comes to White female players, they do not even acknowledge or they think that foul-mouthing and insulting other people is part of the gaming experience (Gray 424).
Another aspect of the article is when Gray mentions that race is being ignored in MMORPGs, but in other video games, that is not the case. The upcoming 2016 game, Mafia 3  where the main character, Lincoln Clay, who is Black is going to experience racism.
So there is a strive where racism can be displayed in video games in a mature and realistic fashion. Finally, it was really empowering to see these female gamers of color created these networks to feel safe. It reminded me of what Reginald was talking about in his blog when he talked about Black goth subculture. When people hear the terms "video games" and/or "gamer" they think of males. When people think of "goths," a White person comes to mind. This whole idea of "only guys play video games" has to end.

Discussion Questions

1. If any of the class are gamers, have you experienced insults and racial slurs when it came to online gaming?

2. Are the creation of the clan/guild groups be consider a form of cyberfeminism?

3. Do you agree when Gray's assessment that, "clan membership is imperative to women in Xbox Live to ensure a positive gaming experience" (Gray 418).

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