The Gaming and Racism Debate

Posted by David Konow

The debate about the destructive qualities of games should continue for a long time. Many times when a national tragedy occurs, video games and violent movies are often blamed, and now a study claims that gaming can encourage racism.

As we’ve reported here on TGD, there have been studies that point out the positive effects of gaming, and there’s many good things you can get from playing video games. But the Daily Beast also reminds us, “In the last year alone studies have shown that video games can make people unempathetic, aggressive, fat cheaters with no self-control.” 
 
So now the Beast tells us that Ohio State University just ran a study that makes the suggestion that playing games can encourage more racism in people who are already prejudiced. According to The Beast, citing the Ohio State study, white gamers playing with black avatars played more aggressively, but also “came away from the games with negative stereotypes.” 
 
126 Caucasian students, 60% of them males, played the games Saints Row 2, WWE Smackdown Vs. RAW 2010, and Fight Night Round 4, with a variety of different avatars, black and white, for this study. 
 
Yet the Beast had to concede that this study “seems to be less about games and more about the people who make and play them.” Yes there’s a lot of violence and stereotyping in games, but could it be that blaming video games for the ills of the world is putting too much weight on them? 
 
For most people, gaming is a diversion, and you’re probably not thinking too deeply about racism or committing violence when playing. If you are, you probably have those feelings to begin with and don’t need a joystick to bring them out. (Same with being an aggressive fat cheater with no self control.)