Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Digital Arabs" Sisler

Sisler’s article “Digital Arabs: Representation in Video Games” is a great article highlighting the stereotyping done in various video games. He begins with the perception of representation as more than just the visual representation, but that the storyline, perspective and main characters play large parts in what the game represents. He goes on to cover the perspective most often displayed in military based games; the “self” versus the “other.” In American video games, the collective self is the American military and the other, who is the enemy, is often Arabic or Islamic. According to Sisler, “The enemy is depicted by a set of schematized attributes...headcover, loose clothes, dark skin colour.” This is a clear example of the stereotyping seen in almost all types of media in the United States. Also, as in the video games Full Spectrum Warrior and Delta Force, the “enemy” is most nearly demonized by the game in that the Arabic soldiers engage in cruel and inhumane actions. Most of the stereotyping, as in other forms of media, is in many ways a result of 9/11. However, those in Arabic countries who have seen their young people play these American games are concerned with the impact it has on their youth. In response, they have created their own video games. The only difference between their games and the American ones is the perspective from which the gamer plays. The premise is still us versus them, only the “us” side is made up of Arabic and Muslim characters and the “other” side is made up of Israeli people. In conclusion, I feel as though the stereotyping done in America towards Arabic people groups is not uncommon by any means. It should not come as a surprise that the collective self can be any group of people and the other, which is the enemy, is whoever the game designer wishes them to be. This article really shows how deep this tendency to stereotype a people group that is very misunderstood really is in both American culture and even Arabic culture.

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