Samantha Blackmon (Ph.D. Wayne State University, 2001), an assistant professor at Purdue University, studies race and gender in cyberspace. She has published on race and gaming, race and technology, technology and pedagogy, and cultural studies. She has recently completed (Re)Constructing Education, an historical and contemporary study of African American higher education. She teaches composition, minority rhetoric, computers and writing at Purdue University.
Racing Toward Representation: An Understanding of Racial Representation in GTA Vice City
In his 2004 text, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Paul Gee makes it clear that he does not focus on issues of violence and gender representation. I argue that racial representation also gets summarily dismissed by Gee who sees problems with racialized character creation, but claims that "wider choices will, I am sure, be available as time goes on" (11).
In this presentation I will interrogate how children interpret race in Rockstar Games' 2002 blockbuster hit Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. For this paper I interviewed a 16 year-old special-needs student, who has spent most of his life in an urban area with a large minority population, in order to ascertain whether or not Gee's concept of multiple routes of progress and differing learning styles can be extended to critical thought about the game environment itself. This presentation also aims to ask attendees to interrogate rhetorical representations of race in video games and to offer feedback to the research being conducted by the speaker.