Jun 15 2010 12:30pm to Jun 15 2010 12:30pm

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game: Internet Games, Social Inequality, and Racist Talk as Griefing

Lisa Nakamura, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

Tuesday, June 15, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person (rsvp@cyber.harvard.edu)
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.

Games are a radically transnational medium: as Martin Lister writes in New Media: An Introduction, “even before Pokémon, the videogame was perhaps the most thoroughly transnational form of popular culture, both as an industry (with Sony, Sega ad Nintendo as the key players) but also at the level of content—the characters and narratives of many videogames are evidence of relays of influence between America and Japan.” Internet gameplay is becoming more socially and culturally diverse and ubiquitous than ever before.  Yet at the same time, the culture of griefing or pranking that dominates these games and other forms of networked social life such as Second Life and Chatroulette takes increasingly racist and racialized forms.  The Patriotic Niggas, a group of griefers who delight in "breaking" Second Life and Habbo Hotel by filling public space with garbage, are assuredly not African American, but resort to offensive racist languages as the shortest route to their goal: the disruption of online community and social life. This essay will recap the history of racist griefing online and link the current crisis in racial discourse in the US with this practice, exploring the implications for digital games as a public sphere.

About Lisa

Lisa Nakamura is the Director of the Asian American Studies Program, Professor in the Institute of Communication Research and Media Studies Program, and Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

She is the author of "Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet" (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), "Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet" (Routledge, 2002) and co-editor of "Race in Cyberspace" (Routledge, 2000).

She has published articles in Critical Studies in Media Communication, PMLA, Cinema Journal, The Womens Review of Books, Camera Obscura, and the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. She is editing a collection with Peter Chow-White entitled "Digital Race: An Anthology" (Routledge, forthcoming), and she is working on a new monograph on social inequality in virtual worlds, tentatively entitled "Workers Without Bodies: Towards a Theory of Race and Digital Labor in Virtual Worlds, or, Why World of Warcraft needs a Civil Rights Movement."


Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Copyright License: 
Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported

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Last updated date

January 31, 2015