Not long ago, Amanda Calhoun, a periodic gamer, considered buying a video game with online multiplayer capability to play with other gamers online. But as she scrolled through the game’s reviews, she found complaints over the frequency with which the N-word was used by some on the platform. She decided not to buy it.
For Calhoun, who is Black, the discovery was distressing, not just personally but professionally given her work in child and adolescent psychiatry. With so many kids playing video games, how was such language affecting their self-identity and mental health?
“While these games are fun and entertaining, there’s a whole interactive world that kids are in,” said Calhoun, a fellow in child psychiatry at Yale University’s Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut. “You’re playing the game to have fun, not to see racist slurs.”
A growing field of research on online racism and its effects on young people shows racism and extremism in online gaming platforms are having detrimental mental and emotional health effects on those targeted directly, or even indirectly, by such vitriol. More than 212 million Americans play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2023 industry report, fueling a $56.6 billion market. [Continue reading…]