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CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Representation in video games still falls short

David Leonard
David Leonard

When it comes to women, the video game industry still hasn’t quite figured it out.

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo or “E3,” the annual video game industry trade show, just wrapped up with its fair share of controversy. Ubisoft’s creative director, Alex Amancio, drew harsh criticism after stating that their latest “Assassin’s Creed” title’s co-op mode would not feature female assassins.

This is but one example of a much bigger problem in the industry as a whole.

A study of video games referenced by David Leonard, professor and chair of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at WSU, found that 64 percent of game characters were male, while 17 percent were female, fewer than even non-human characters, who came in at 19 percent. The majority of characters were white, and, of the black men seen, more than 80 percent of them showed up as competitors in sports-oriented games. Leonard found black women had an even narrower role: 90 percent of black female characters were props, bystanders or victims.

Some may argue that games are overwhelmingly white and male because studios are simply appealing to their target demographics; white males buy their games, so they need to target white male gamers. Except the demographics aren’t nearly as skewed in one particular direction.

Learn more about video game imbalance

CAS alumna highlights WSU multicultural graduation May 9

Elise Boxer
Elise Boxer

Alumna Elise Boxer, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Utah (UU), will deliver the keynote address during WSU’s annual Multicultural Graduation Celebration 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 9, in the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Event Center in Pullman.

Boxer earned two bachelor of arts degrees at WSU in 2002, one in history and one in social studies.

“WSU was an important part of my educational journey,” said Boxer, who was active in the Office of Multicultural Student Services and the Native American Student Center. “I was able to connect my tribal community to the university by making space for Native students on campus,” she said.

“She served as an excellent mentor and role model, not only for students of color but for all students,” said J. Manuel Acevedo, director of WSU’s Office of Multicultural Student Services.

Before joining the faculty at UU, Boxer was a visiting assistant professor in American Indian studies at Eastern Washington University and a member of adjunct faculty at the College of the Redwoods-Klamath-Trinity Instructional Site and Mesa Community College. She earned her master’s degree in history at Utah State University and her doctoral degree in history at Arizona State University.

Find out more

Why are so many pro basketball owners Jewish (like Donald Sterling)?

Tribe lured to hoops by economics, history, and love of game

American Jews’ overwhelming dominance of the business side of professional basketball slipped awkwardly into the spotlight April 29, when National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver announced harsh sanctions against Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, at a press conference in New York. Silver levied fines and a lifetime ban against Sterling, who had been caught on tape expressing racist attitudes toward black people.

During the question-and-answer session, a sportswriter named Howard Megdal (who once wrote a book called The Baseball Talmud) asked whether the fact that both Silver and Sterling were Jewish had affected Silver’s response to Sterling’s racist tirade.

“I think my response was as a human being,” Silver said.

David Leonard
David Leonard

The interaction highlighted not only the predominance of Jewish ownership in the NBA but also the near-lack of African-American owners (Michael Jordan famously owns the Charlotte Bobcats). “People have difficulty talking about [the] conflicts, tensions, the differential privileges,” said David Leonard, associate professor and chair of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at WSU and author of the 2012 book After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness. “I think moments like this become a moment of anxiety for many in the Jewish community,” Leonard said.

“For much of the first half of the 20th century, Jews were very involved in basketball as players,” he said. “Especially among second-generation Jewish immigrants, this became a means of asserting one’s American identity, one’s physical prowess.”

Read more in The Jewish Daily Forward

45 undergraduates named top researchers in SURCA competition

SURCA 2014 Applied Sciences Winners
SURCA 2014 Applied Sciences Winners

Thirty-nine awards were presented recently to 45 WSU students—many in the College of Arts and Sciences—at the third annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2014.

The work of 192 students University-wide was detailed in 11 oral and 145 poster presentations open to faculty, staff, students, and guests. More than 100 judges evaluated the presentations. The judges included WSU emeriti faculty and retirees, faculty, staff, and post-doctoral students as well as experts from companies outside of WSU.

While many students from urban campuses traveled to participate, SURCA was made available to two place-bound students thanks to web conferencing provided by the Global Campus. A Pullman student studying abroad in Mexico and a WSU Vancouver student who was unable to attend SURCA in person talked “live” to their judges who were in the senior ballroom of the Compton Union Building.

More about the competition and list of winners

‘Clicktivism’ moves civil rights forward in a new generation

Experts say Black activism today takes place in digital spaces where young African Americans share stories and invoke conversation about their struggles with friends and strangers. According to David J. Leonard, associate professor and chair of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies, social media has its place in activism just as traditional forms of activism commonly associated with the Civil Rights movement.

“Activism and organizing are the basis of change; change comes through what [W.E.B.] DuBois described as ceaseless agitation. There are many different tools that are used to engage in this work,” Leonard said. He points to the information shared in social media about Trayvon Martin, the “online mobilization” to Jena 6, and the execution of Troy Davis, as examples of when Black youth use social media to create conversation.

Read more about social media in activism