TreaAndrea Russworm, "The Racially Queer Politics of Playing with Broken Video Games"
Although it may seem that the multi-billion-dollar mainstream video game industry remains indifferent or outwardly antagonistic to the fight for Black liberation and U.S. political reform, movements like #BlackLivesMatter have become central to the politicized play practices of Black gamers, geeks, blerds, and technocrats. In this talk TreaAndrea M. Russworm explores some of the ways in which recent encounters with what she theorizes as the “brokenness of video games” complicate our popular assumptions about the cultural life of video games. This talk makes Black cultural fan-practices more visible and also directly challenges the growing academic discourse that “queers” games and reinscribes whiteness in trying to locate examples of non-normative play. What might it mean to make queer theory, queer activism, and now queer game studies more accountable for the continued reproduction of racial and intersectional blindspots? In thinking about our methods for digital cultural analysis, how might new interdisciplinary contributions to Black film and media studies venture beyond the usual digital cultural focus on Black Twitter, Facebook, and social media as important sites of contest and critique?
An Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, TreaAndrea M. Russworm teaches classes on video games, digital cultural studies, and African American popular culture. She is the author of Blackness is Burning: Civil Rights, Popular Culture, and the Problem of Recognition (Wayne State University Press, 2016) and a co-editor of From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (University of Mississippi Press, 2016) and Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games (Indiana University Press, 2017). She is currently writing a fourth book on race, gaming, and the politics of play.