Woke Gaming: A Critical Reflection on the State of Gaming Culture in the US

I like playing video games, board games, and any other type of game because games foster an environment of friendly rivalry with others in a way that would enable you to connect with them by sharing a certain passion.

In games, you can unleash your inner competitive side without having drastic consequences, most of the time. However, there are times when people overstop the boundaries and that's where games can become toxic spaces instead of fun ones for people to enjoy.

In the book Woke Gaming, several essays explore the various dimensions within gaming, intersecting it with issues like social justice, oppression, discrimination, and domination.

Woke Gaming contains fourteen essays and is divided into five main sections: (1) ethics, violence, and oppositional gaming; (2) the political economy of gaming; (3) feminist gaming; (4) gaming and resistance; and (5) inclusive gaming and empathy—a lot of sections considering the total number of chapters.
The book wishes to move “beyond the critical examination of the virtual pedagogies of racism, sexism, and homophobia” (p. 13) to explore video games as spaces where violence and domination are normalized, “as sites for the consumption of worlds that privilege the American empire, militarism, and white male heroes” (p. 14).
This perspective is particularly focused on a US context, building upon a US history of video games, game design, and game cultures. This US-centric approach somewhat limits the book’s applicability, though it does provide two chapters that explore gaming in Asia and a critical reflection on Western imperialism.

(Image credit: Amanda Weiss)


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