Two professors published a research paper this summer that argues that the FIFA soccer video game series promotes racism.
The study, which was highlighted this week by Campus Reform, analyzes the various skill attributes of players within the FIFA soccer video game series. The research focused primarily on the feature in the series that allows users to create their own players.
According to the research, which was conducted by Oakland University Professor Srauy and University of Michigan Professor John Cheney-Lippold, FIFA players created white and Latino characters that had a higher intelligence rating than their black teammates.
Through an analysis of six years of created players, Srauy and Cheney-Lippold claim that user-created black players were consistently less intelligent yet more athletic than their non-black teammates.
Platformed racism offers a unique lens through which to investigate technological structures that enable racism. Online video games, such as EA Sports’ FIFA series — which dominates the soccer video game market share through its touted realism — feature these structures. Like many platforms, FIFA enables representations of real bodies (i.e., professional soccer players). But, unlike many games, FIFA enables game players to directly affect the creation/modification of these representation in the form of player character cards. Analyzing a census of six years of player cards, this study found that platformed racism was enabled because the game’s realism invited racism when players tried to maintain that realism. The study concludes that the catalyst for racism to emerge in FIFA was the drive towards realism.
Breitbart News reported in October 2018 that Professor Cheney-Lippold refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student that was looking to study abroad in Israel.
“I am very sorry, but I only scanned your first email a couple weeks ago and missed out on a key detail,” Cheney-Lippold wrote in an email to the student last year. “As you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine. This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”
In response to Cheney-Lippold’s refusal to support his student, the University of Michigan published a statement announcing that professors who refuse to write recommendation letters for students on the basis of their beliefs will face “serious consequences.”
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