Academic department under which the project should be listed

Geography & Anthropology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Brandon D. Lundy

Project Type

Poster

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Diversity in video games has often been ignored or caricaturized such as in Final Fantasy VII, where the main character, Barret Wallace, is portrayed as African American. Video games are now big business, impacting almost every facet of American society and earning more than $91.5 billion dollars annually. This research explores how triple A games portray character identities and why these portrayals may be changing? Data will come from five semi-structured interviews with gamers about their experiences and perceptions about how diversity in video games affects their views about and enjoyment of the games they play. Do diverse characters enhance their gaming experience? Do they choose games that reflect their own cultural identity better? Furthermore, through a content analysis of five popular video game online forums, posts will be analyzed to see what people are saying about increased character diversity online. I hypothesize that how diversity is portrayed in current games can have either a positive or negative affect on perceptions of self-worth and cultural identity, especially among minorities. With how much video game franchises are expanding, and as they try and capture more market share among diverse players, game designers are adding more character options. Public opinion is key to discovering if game companies are helping or hindering the intersectionality of cultural identity, gaming, and diversity.

Keywords: video games, race, gender, sexuality, identity, gaming

Share

COinS
 

Diversity in Video Games: The Personal Experience of Gamers

Diversity in video games has often been ignored or caricaturized such as in Final Fantasy VII, where the main character, Barret Wallace, is portrayed as African American. Video games are now big business, impacting almost every facet of American society and earning more than $91.5 billion dollars annually. This research explores how triple A games portray character identities and why these portrayals may be changing? Data will come from five semi-structured interviews with gamers about their experiences and perceptions about how diversity in video games affects their views about and enjoyment of the games they play. Do diverse characters enhance their gaming experience? Do they choose games that reflect their own cultural identity better? Furthermore, through a content analysis of five popular video game online forums, posts will be analyzed to see what people are saying about increased character diversity online. I hypothesize that how diversity is portrayed in current games can have either a positive or negative affect on perceptions of self-worth and cultural identity, especially among minorities. With how much video game franchises are expanding, and as they try and capture more market share among diverse players, game designers are adding more character options. Public opinion is key to discovering if game companies are helping or hindering the intersectionality of cultural identity, gaming, and diversity.

Keywords: video games, race, gender, sexuality, identity, gaming