A researcher at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada is on a mission to find out the psychological effects of too many white-looking characters in video games.
Cale Passmore complied a 92-question survey about racial and ethnic diversity in video games that was sent out to almost 300 Americans and addressed “the types of questions that are on people’s minds but get buried or not approached,” the researcher said to the CBC.
Passmore concluded that the virtual world is as full of micro-aggressions as real life, depending on individual experiences, and with similar consequences.
“The same long-term effects of depression, detachment, disengagement, low self-worth are present as outcomes, as you would see in everyday, daily racism,” he said.
One of the main findings of the research, Passmore says, is most people who play video games want to play as characters who reflect or resemble themselves.
But while many games offer users the option to change the skin-color of their avatar, the characters have overwhelmingly Caucasian features which amounts to playing as a character in “black face,” he concluded.
He reported that most of the people who answered the survey agreed that many video game characters are white and that most non-white characters are stereotypes, reports the CBC.
Many involved with the study predicted, wrongly, that their fellow gamers would be intolerant of an increase of ethnic diversity in games, effectively concluding the perception of “racism” doesn’t match the actual data. The same respondents who predicted a negative reaction from some groups said they believe their own “community” would support increased racial diversity.
“So this was indicative of a trend we see throughout the literature where we’re giving way more credit to this highly-vocal, negative minority, to this sort of fear, than is actually warranted by data,” Passmore said.
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