Shush! A Hushed Note on Postcolonialism and Diversity
Souvik Friday, October 02, 2015
Again, regarding postcolonialism, some of the things I heard around me (besides much enthusiasm for having it in game studies) were rather worrying. The broad concerns that I have are that postcolonialism does not seem to be researched beyond the older theories of Said, Bhabha and Fanon. people believe that these do not apply to nations such as China and to world literature. Here is, I think, a great deal to be done in terms of increasing the awareness of games researchers to how notions of post colonialism remain current. Also I need to do a lot more reading for my own upcoming book on the subject. More recent work by Pheng Cheah, David Damrosch, Emily Apter, Dipesh Chakrabarty and Spivak herself is important in countering views that we are now post-race and that post-colonialism is a thing of the nineties. It’s not like that the problems of empire have all said goodbye (even with Hardt and Negri’s grand hope in the potential of the multitude). Videogames and games research have had a longish disconnect with scenarios of post colonialism (despite early work by some scholars such as Barry Atkins and Sybille Lammes) and this needs to be addressed.
I am also part of the diversity committee for DiGRA and on a happier note, I was part of a meeting where much fruitful discussion took place. The recommendation of lower fees for delegates and especially students from lower-income countries is extremely welcome. As is the survey of people coming from various diversity groups. I strongly believe, though, that diversity goes far beyond ticking boxes - all the many levels of exclusive discourse need to be thought through and given due recognition. And it doesn’t hurt to try; it has hurt for long because I haven’t tried - again, I’m speaking for myself. Next DiGRA will see a diversity workshop happen and I’m looking forward to it. I also spoke to a promising young scholar on Gamergate on how some women also adopt the Gamergaters’ avatar Vivian James and play out their discourse. So in thinking about diversity, one needs to be wary of falling into stereotypes. Here’s an example. I was horribly treated by the immigration officer at Heathrow this time and my Facebook post had many people commenting on it with the assumption that that person were a white male. She was most probably Asian - hailing (an earlier generation of hers did) from my own country or our neighbours. It’s complex and it hurts but there is so much more to be done. A book that is on the top of my reading list is Adrienne’s Gaming at the Edges - I think it will teach me a lot and I’m super-disappointed that I missed her book launch event in Dundee.
DiGRA 2015 started us off on diversity in games and the diversity committee has been very actively working on some of the key issues that have been relevant in the community. DiGRA 2016 has seen a greater interest in diversity and 2017 promises a workshop to bring the key problems to the table for a discussion amongst the community.
(The inspiration for the title is Barry Atkins's blog 'Shush! Speaking Quietly about Videogames')
'Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material [...] but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning' - Italo Calvino