Dialogues in Research: Racial and Environmental Justice in Video Games
April 7, Wed, 10:30am-12:30pm (Hong Kong Time) | April 6, Tue, 7:30-9:30pm (Pacific Daylight Time)
Venue: Zoom (meeting link will be sent after registration)
Conducted in English. All are welcome.
Please register by 5 April 2021
Race and Video Games: Asiatic / Virtual Other \ Brownness
Prof. Christopher B. Patterson (University of British Columbia)
Bringing Nature into Play (or, On Flat Rabbits, SpeedTrees, and Thunderbird)
Prof. Alenda Chang (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Prof. Peichi Chung (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Prof. Christopher B. Patterson on “Race and Video Games: Asiatic / Virtual Other \ Brownness”
ABSTRACT: This talk orbits a constellation of concepts that might help understand the various ways race is put to work in video games: Asiatic, Virtual Other, Brownness. I draw from the first chapter of my book Open World Empire to develop “The Asiatic” as a concept that means what it sounds like: a way to describe the somewhat Asian, the Asianish, the Asia-like characters, environments, and forms commonly found in interactive media, which do not define Asia so much as reveal the gazes cast upon it. I then use the gravity of this term to slingshot to another: “The Virtual Other,” conceived in the last chapter of Open World Empire as the other produced through recognizing obscurity, silence, and misrecognition itself. I then embark upon a term outside my book—“Brownness,” which can help conceive of the inherent instability of naming, the blurriness of racial thinking that codes brown bodies as “mass,” represented in video games through zombies, non-playable characters, and large crowds, and other visual iconography that places the player into a position of agency and elation.
BIO: Christopher B. Patterson is an academic and fiction writer at the Social Justice Institute in the University of British Columbia. His first book, Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific, won the Shelley Fishkin Award for Transnational American Studies, and his debut novel, Stamped, won the 2020 Creative Prose Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. His latest books are Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Video Games from NYU Press, and the novel All Flowers Bloom from Westphalia Press, both published in 2020. He is also co-founder and host of two Asian American Studies podcasts, the New Books in Asian American Studies podcast, and The JAAS Podcast; and he is the managing editor of decomp journal, a literary journal of the Social Justice Institute.
Prof. Alenda Chang on “Bringing Nature into Play (or, On Flat Rabbits, SpeedTrees, and Thunderbird)”
ABSTRACT: What if wandering a game could offer us as meaningful a natural experience as going outdoors? In this talk, I suggest that games present opportunities not only to engage directly with environmental issues, but also to foster moments of worldly compassion, experimentation, and loss—playfully persuasive ways of reckoning with the built and biogeochemical systems that surround us. Having acknowledged that humans and nonhumans are inevitably entangled (in Playing Nature), here I also consider how games might partake in the intersectional and multiscalar work that environmental studies scholar David Pellow has called for in “second-wave” environmental justice, or “critical environmental justice studies.”
BIO: Alenda Y. Chang is an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose research and teaching encompass environmental media, histories and theories of the digital, game studies, science and technology studies, and sound studies. Her first book, Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games, develops environmentally informed frameworks for understanding and designing digital games (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). At UCSB, Chang directs the Creative Computing Initiative and co-directs Wireframe, a studio promoting collaborative theoretical and creative media practice with investments in global social and environmental justice. She is also a founding co-editor of the UC Press open-access journal, Media+Environment.
This event is co-organized by MA in Intercultural Studies, the Centre for Cultural Studies, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, CUHK