Episode 44: On Woke Gaming with Kishonna L. Gray

We’ve got another great episode in store for you How Do You Like it So Far? fans!  This week, Henry and Colin are joined by Kishonna L. Gray, an Assistant Professor in Communication and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Co-Editor of the book Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social InjusticeWoke Gaming argues that the intersection between the gaming culture and identity is deeply entangled with systematic exploitation and oppression in mainstream society.  The book also explores what alternatives to mainstream gaming — whether through the indie game movement or fan reworkings and moddings of games — might contribute to the reimagining of games as a medium. Using Assassin’s Creed as an example, Gray discusses here how the dearth of female characters in the game serves as a mirror for the inequalities and social injustices that are pervasive in today’s society.  Her discussion of minorities in gaming includes the Girl Games Movement, Gamergate and the difference between the black gaming culture and the black games movement. Listen in as Gray imagines a world where the gaming culture breaks down persistent racial stereotypes by becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive.  She even mentions a book that Henry edited in the 1990s!

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:


From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games – Henry’s book with Justine Cassell

Follow Up Books to From Barbie to Mortal Kombat:
Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat
Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat

Gaming Devices:

Apex Legend for the PC
World of Warcraft
League of Legends
Super Smash Bros.
Call of Duty
Assassin’s Creed – no female characters

Examples of games from Woke Gaming:
Hair Nah

Black women in gaming

FanCons – public gaming spaces

Games are a medium, not a genre – insight from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics

Triple AAA games

Minorities in gaming

White males have more access to games

Read-Write Web

Black youths savvy with technology

Pokemon Go → Southside of Chicago:
Tech inaccessible on the Southside

Esports hybrid network in libraries

Girl Games Movement:
Brenda Laurel – a key leader of the Girls Games Movement

Black Games Movement
Lincoln Clay – Mafia III storyline

Race Games Movement:
Diversifying video games
Black female gamers


David Leonard 

Joan Joda 

Lisa Nakamura

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!

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