World of race war: Race and learning in World of Warcraft

Alfred Weiss, Sharon Tettegah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Stereotypical portrayals of race are common in many modern video games. However, research on games and game environments has often overlooked race as an important consideration when evaluating games for their educational potential. This is particularly true of the educational literature on online games, which has tended to emphasize virtual game spaces as intrinsically exemplary learning environments while deemphasizing the narrative content of the games themselves. This article addresses this oversight. Through a close reading of game communications and fan-created content, the authors examined how developer-produced racial narratives influence players' experience of the game world. The authors find that players and player communities reproduce and reinforce narrow developer-produced interpretations of race during in-game interactions as well as in player forums and virtual communities beyond the confines of the game world. Because the game environment is not conducive to players' critical examination of race, the authors conclude that the game does not intrinsically provide a means for players to engage critically with game content. They further conclude that as educational environments these games must be situated and contextualized within the ideologies and discourses of the physical world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012

Keywords

  • Communications
  • Game narratives
  • Gameplay
  • Massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs)
  • Multiuser virtual environments
  • Race
  • Racial narratives
  • Racialized discourse
  • World of Warcraft (WoW)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications

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