By the end of this lesson students will be able to understand the impact of video games on issues of equity and social justice. Students will also learn to analyze the portrayal of race, gender, and sexuality in video games. Students will identify and critique examples of video games that perpetuate stereotypes and discrimination, as well as those that challenge and subvert them. Lastly, students will reflect on their own experiences with video games and consider how they can use them to promote equity and inclusion.
“I can” statements
- I can analyze the representation of diverse groups in video games, including race, gender, sexuality, ability, and socioeconomic status.
- I can evaluate the impact of video games on issues of equity and social justice, including the perpetuation of stereotypes and discrimination.
- I can identify examples of structural and systemic inequities in the video game industry, such as issues related to labor, pay, and representation.
Grade Level: 7-12
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- Students will analyze and critique the portrayal of diverse groups in video games, including race, gender, sexuality, ability, and socioeconomic status.
- Students will explore the historical and cultural context of video games and the representation of diverse groups in popular media.
- Students will identify and evaluate examples of structural and systemic inequities in the video game industry, including issues related to labor, pay, and representation.
- Students will consider the ways in which video games can both perpetuate and challenge stereotypes and discrimination.
- Students will explore the ways in which video games can create inclusive and welcoming environments for players of diverse backgrounds and identities.
- Students will consider the impact of video game design on the experiences of players with disabilities or who speak different languages.
- Students will evaluate the accessibility of video games for players with disabilities, including those with visual, hearing, or motor impairments.
- Students will consider the impact of technological advances on the accessibility and inclusivity of video games
- Computer and projector
- Copies of various video games (both mainstream and independent) that depict diverse characters and themes
- Handouts with discussion questions and prompts
Teacher says: “Did you know that the video game industry is worth over $300 billion worldwide? With millions of players and thousands of games, video games have become a major form of entertainment and a significant influence on popular culture. But have you ever thought about the impact of video games on issues of equity and social justice? Today, we’re going to explore how video games can both perpetuate and challenge stereotypes and discrimination, and consider how we can use video games to promote a more inclusive and equitable world.”
Introduction (10 minutes)
- Ask students to reflect on their experiences with video games and how they relate to issues of equity and social justice.
- Define key terms such as equity, diversity, representation, and discrimination.
- Explain the purpose of the lesson and what students will be learning.
Analysis of video games (30 minutes)
- Show examples of different video games that depict diverse characters and themes, such as “Life is Strange,” “Gone Home,” “The Last of Us,” and “Undertale.”
- Lead a group discussion on the portrayal of race, gender, and sexuality in these games.
- Have students identify examples of video games that perpetuate stereotypes and discrimination, as well as those that challenge and subvert them.
- Ask students to reflect on what they have learned about video games and equity.
Critique of video games (30 minutes)
- Divide students into small groups and give each group a different video game to analyze.
- Provide handouts with discussion questions and prompts to guide their analysis.
- Have each group present their findings to the class and lead a class discussion on the different ways video games can promote or undermine equity.
Reflection and Action (20 minutes)
- Ask students to reflect on their own experiences with video games and consider how they can use them to promote equity and inclusion.
- Provide prompts such as: “How can you use video games to challenge stereotypes and promote diversity?”, “What steps can game developers take to create more inclusive games?”, and “What role do gamers have in promoting equity in the gaming industry?”
- Have students share their ideas and discuss them as a class.
Deep dive into video game developers/companies that have been integral to bringing equity to the field of video game development. Examples below:
Tanya DePass: Tanya DePass is a video game critic and diversity advocate who founded the nonprofit organization I Need Diverse Games. She works to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in video games and the gaming industry as a whole, and has helped to highlight the experiences of marginalized groups in gaming.
Ubisoft: Ubisoft is a video game developer and publisher that has made a commitment to improving diversity and inclusion in its games and workplace. The company has created a Diversity and Inclusion department and has launched initiatives to improve representation of women and underrepresented minorities in its games and workforce.
Games for Change: Games for Change is a nonprofit organization that works to promote social impact through games. They aim to support games that address social and political issues and promote positive social change, such as improving access to education or promoting environmental sustainability.
Valiant Game Studio: Valiant Game Studio is a video game developer that has created games focused on addressing social issues and promoting empathy and understanding. Their game “All of Us” explores themes of mental health, empathy, and suicide prevention, while their game “Peacemaker” is a political simulation that encourages players to think about peace and conflict resolution.
Prompt students to choose a person, developer or company to research. Based on their explorations, students will share and highlight why their advocacy is reshaping the conversation of equity within gaming.
Summarize the key points of the lesson and emphasize the importance of considering issues of equity in all forms of media, including video games. Then encourage students to continue thinking critically about the video games they play and how they can use them to promote a more just and inclusive society.