Stereotypes and Cybertypes in the internet and video games

In Lisa Nakaruma’s, Cybertyping and the Work of Race in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the author brings out a distinct concept that perhaps doesn’t come out a lot in the issues of race (or at least not often as I know it).  Cybertyping as Nakaruma calls it, is “the distinctive ways that the Internet propagates, disseminates and commodifies images of race and racism.”(Nakaruma, pg. 318)  Nakaruma discusses this concept of cybertyping along with stereotyping and how it plays a role in the influencing humanities ideas of race and racism.  My immediate thoughts on this concept have to do with video games, computer games or anything on the internet where you do something under the falsehood of a character.  The character or avatar as it’s sometimes called, in gaming worlds is often something with an extreme amount of stereotypes.  Sometimes there’s games where you can only choose between a male and a female, other avatars might only show choices of caucasian or african american characters, and while even others may show multiple races it is all still a form of racism and stereotypes showing up in these formats.  The problem is that by creating a character, meant to describe all the features of a human of one race is simply impossible.  You cannot take a group of people and turn them into one image because not only will you always miss something but, you cannot generalize and stereotype a group into one category.  Everyone is different regardless of race and this is what needs to be the focus of gaming and of building avatars in order to decrease racism.


In my opinion there are two solutions, one better than the other.  The first is to allow the user to create their own avatar.  Change and create things like, height, weight, hair length, eye color, skin color, body type, etc. the list can go on and on.  The pros of this is that you can ideally create an image of whoever you want.  However, in reality no matter how many different options you put in for someone to create an avatar, you will always miss someone somewhere who you maybe didn’t know about or never thought about.  The best option in my opinion is to generalize avatars so much that they are not avatars.  Computers or inanimate objects, have no stereotypes of race, gender or anything.  If you were to make the computer be your avatar, with the image of a computer and a monotone voice this could solve some or all of the racial issues as well as almost all the issues surrounding gender as well (if you couldn’t tell if the voice was male or female it would solve even more of the issues).  Whatever, the choices are, it seems clear to me that avatars and characters on the internet and in video games, need to change.  They need to strive in a better direction for everyone regardless of any type of individual characteristic one might possess.

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