UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Examining gender and race in video games is nothing new. But one aspect researchers failed to look at previously is the intersection of gender and race in the gaming world and how that affects the ways users learn.
“I study gaming from a learning sciences, educational lens and I believe that people learn in practice,” said Gabriela T. Richard, assistant professor of learning, design and technology in Penn State’s College of Education. “A big aspect of how we learn is through cultural practice and, for many years, the learning sciences has been investigating the ways that people learn through culture and their surrounding environments,” she said.
“There have been studies showing the disparities of gender in technology and gaming, but people weren’t really looking at how this intersected with race,” she said. “That was a big concern for me because, as a woman of color, I am someone who has not only played games and worked in tech but am also a researcher.”
In 2009, Richard decided to address her concerns and initiated a first-of-its-kind study where she applied intersectional theory to understand the different types of exclusionary practices in gaming across gender and race.
“I found that there were significant barriers across gender and race, and that certain supportive communities, specifically female supportive communities, actually served as a buffer for women, while showing measurable benefits for men as well,” she said, explaining that the communities also promoted women in the gaming industry.