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Esports and the Color Line: Labor, Skill and the Exclusion of Black Players



This article focuses on the exclusion of black players from PC esports through constructed forms of skill and labor. While esports is one of the fastest-growing industries in America, it remains an overwhelmingly white and Asian field. Thus, this piece explores the absence of black players by examining profit, labor, and blackness to analyze the devaluing of the black body and why it has been rendered valueless in the space of PC esports. In doing so, I provide an analysis of skill and the ways in which merit helps to silence discussions on diversity, in order to provide a piece which serves as a questioning of the esports status quo. Additionally, this piece grapples with the many ways in which players come to envision themselves as both product and laborer in relation to the dearth of black PC esports players. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Esports and the Color Line: Labor, Skill, and the Exclusion of Black
Akil Fletcher
National Science Foundation (GRFP)
University of California, Irvine
This article focuses on the exclusion of black
players from PC esports through constructed forms
of skill and labor. While esports is one of the fastest-
growing industries in America, it remains an
overwhelmingly white and Asian field. Thus, this
piece explores the absence of black players by
examining profit, labor, and blackness to analyze the
devaluing of the black body and why it has been
rendered valueless in the space of PC esports. In
doing so, I provide an analysis of skill and the ways
in which merit helps to silence discussions on
diversity, in order to provide a piece which serves as
a questioning of the esports status quo. Additionally,
this piece grapples with the many ways in which
players come to envision themselves as both product
and laborer in relation to the dearth of black PC
esports players. This material is based upon work
supported by the National Science Foundation
Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
1. Introduction
In May 2016, Terrence Miller, a black
Hearthstone player competing in Dreamhack Austin
(a large competitive esports tournament event), was
victim to one of the most infamous attacks of racism
in recent esports history [14]. When Austin took the
stage to start his match of Hearthstone (a competitive
card playing game), the stream broadcasting his play
exploded with racial slurs and the spamming of the
“try hard emoji” (an image of a black face co-opted
to serve as the white symbol for black gamers).
Unsurprisingly, the story blew up and was featured
on almost every popular gaming website in one form
or another. Many renounced the behavior calling it
despicable and vile and this repudiation would result
in both Blizzard (the parent company of Hearthstone)
and Twitch (the streaming service) vowing to do their
best to make sure that it would never happen again. It
was an event that prompted a deep visceral response
from both players and companies, as everyone
scrambled to put out the fires that came with such
blatant racism.
My goal in this paper is to show how this event
can be understood in the broader context of race in
contemporary esports. Looking at recent history,
events like the outrage towards the story of Mortal
Kombat’s Jax, racist reenactments of lynching on the
online game Red Dead Redemption 2, and
#Gamergate all point to ongoing issues of diversity
and race within gaming. Miller’s case then, was just
one of the many instances of discrimination in a
space which has been rife with issues. Miller’s
interaction was notable for two reasons. First, it was
made visible in the moment through the power of
streaming. Secondand most importantlyit
happened within the upper echelons of high-level
competitive gaming. The U.S PC esports scene
suffers from a major lack of diversity, in which most
of the professional player base is almost entirely
white or Asian males. This means that not only was
Miller’s harassment egregious, it was also rare for the
simple fact that there are not a lot of black
professional players to begin with. This is key in
understanding the event because while Miller’s story
is indeed tragic, it does reveal the simple truth that
there is a major lack of diversity within PC esports.
But the question remains, why?
While this event does portray some of the more
toxic reasons behind the dearth of black players, in
this article I will explore ways in which there is more
at work than a simple act of online racism. I conclude
the lack of black PC professional players cannot
simply be attributed to a toxic space or environment.
And, while there are no simple answers, I believe
Miller’s case serves as an opportunity to engage with
the many possibilities which may lead to such
scarcities. Within the turbulence of this racist story
there lies a golden opportunity to engage with
questions of labor, merit, and accessibility which
plague many black players today. For this reason,
rather than providing simple answers to a
Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences | 2020
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complicated issue my goal throughout this piece is to
shed light on a few of the issues which may
contribute to the missing black professional PC
player base. By engaging with scholars such as Lisa
Nakamura, Tanner Higgins, Harvey Young, and
Kishonna Gray, I hope to further the analysis of how
black players (professional and those aspiring to be)
are excluded from professional PC gaming.
2. Gaming, Race, and Labor
Gaming can operate as a form of leisure, therapy,
or communication, and at times all of these things at
once. However, recently there has been much
attention given to whether gaming can be classified
as a form of labor. After all, how could a video game
(something typically designed to be fun and
enjoyable) be a form of work? Yet, with the recent
rise of esports and a fecund digital media industry,
many have begun to question whether games should
be considered a form of labor. Quite often there is no
dispute around whether or not those who create and
maintain games are meticulous workers, since they
provide or help to provide a material product which is
sold and bought like any other; however, issues arise
when there is discussion to be had regarding those
who engage with a game’s content. Are they merely
“consumers” and “users?” In what ways are they
engaged in forms of labor and production? And,
where does this leave the consumer of a product
thought to have already been consumed? Questions
like this pop up throughout the industry and point to
the incongruence of gaming work and previous ideas
of labor as producers such as streamers, writers, and
particularly professional gamers are often
misconstrued to be playing, rather than working.
While these claims hold little weight under the
scrutiny of scholars such as T.L Taylor, who in her
book Raising the Stakes, makes clear that there is a
tremendous amount of both physical and emotional
labor which goes into both playing and being a fan of
a game, there is an undeniable dissonance between
the gaming sphere and how we define labor [17]. For
a key example look no further than the esports
industry, a perfect maelstrom of this very dissonance.
Where players, teams, and companies are all caught
between transforming definitions of labor and capital,
and where esports, like any other capitalist venture, is
driven by the goal of profit.
In capitalism, profit typically comes through
some form of labor exploitation. Within a neoliberal
capitalist imagination labor is often denoted by what
generates profit, and unsurprisingly it is this need for
profit which defines and drives the trends of the
esports industry. As Karl Marx writes in Chapter 15
of Capital, Vol. 1 alongside to lengthening the
working day and compelling workers to labor harder,
technology allows capitalists to produce surplus
value and thereby profit at the worker’s expense” [2].
While Marx could not have foreseen the scale in
which we use technology today there is a prophetic
bent to his words as the technology of games has
become both the lifeline, and the key tool in the
exploitation of the esports player. In this way players
are caught between an intersection of play and work
as they come to be defined by a larger conversation
of gaming and an industry need to create and shore
up revenue. Through, Marx it becomes visible that
the definitions of labor within esports have become
inextricable from that of profit, because while games
may not be the industrial machines of his day they
are the technology which provide the esports industry
the ability to exploit the worker, simultaneously
locking the player to an identity which is profitable.
However, there is a cost to this thinking because as
the identity of the player becomes bound and rigid to
this idea of capital and the bodies which can provide
such, there takes place an undeniable form of
exclusion for those who cannot. After all, what
happens when a player cannot provide capital value?
Or, when a player of equal skill can no longer create
revenue? The bounding of an esports identity to that
which creates profit has inadvertently laid the
groundwork to recreate many of the discriminatory
biases and practices we see in other industries. This is
because when all that matters is profit, issues such as
race, gender, and sex will often remain as an
It is here where I wish to invoke the writing of
legal and race scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw and her
work on intersectionality. For the relationship
between race, gender and sex cannot be understated
in the defining of a profitable body. This is because
while this piece focuses heavily on one aspect of
discrimination (race), it cannot be separated from the
fact that esports and gaming spaces are inherently
white/Asian, male, and mid to upper class dominated.
For this reason, it is imperative to acknowledge the
connected intricacies of this research lest it fall prey
to the short comings of having too narrow a scope. It
is this very fear Crenshaw brings to our attention with
her writings on the disappearance of black women
from the theoretical scope of feminism where she
writes: this focus on the most privileged group
members marginalizes those who are multiply-
burdened and obscures claims that cannot be
understood as resulting from discrete sources of
discrimination [4]. Put simply, a focus on class
alone cannot explain the phenomena in which bodies
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are made profitable and it is for this reason
intersectionality must be employed.
This becomes key to my argument as critical race
scholarship has long pointed to the fact that the
bodies of people of color have long been connected
to their ability to create profit. Using an example
from Lisa Nakamura’s article Indigenous Circuits,
this is easy to see as she points out that the inherent
value of Navajo workers was derived from their
ability to provide quick and efficient labor in
constructing microchips in a rush for globalization.
While not entirely analogous to the black experience
in gaming and esports this is worth mentioning
because of the ways the factory owners within the
article point to the intrinsic ability", and strong work
ethic of Navajo women. “The notion that Indians
were inherently flexible both racialized and
preceded the idea of flexible labor [15]. In this way
an identity of labor and use was created to explain the
exploitation of a group of people mistakenly thought
to be primitive. A fact which bears stark resemblance
to the ideas of black bodies being inherently made
for, and not suitable for specific types of work. This
is important because through intersectionality it
becomes apparent that capital (and ones ability to
produce such) is very much entangled into the many
aspects of their identity and where certain bodies
were exploited, other were turned away. Entirely
focused on the idea of profit within a neoliberal age,
the owners of companies like Fairchild created a use
for people who were deemed by the American
conscious to be “underused”, and there has been a
similar transformation of the black body throughout a
history of exploitation. For blackness has been
entangled in a history of colonialism and slavery
which sought to extract profit from black labor.
This cannot be ignored as capitalism is very much
steeped within a history of black oppression: every
class relation at least bears traces and has certain
features of slavery [6]. It should come as no surprise
then that such a foundational history exists in all
facets of life, including those as ostensibly benign as
esports. Yet, by this logic one would expect an
abundance of black bodies. If capitalism functions
and has been built upon black labor, why then has
this labor been excluded from esports? Here lies the
paradox of black labor in esports, for you see, while
the disenfranchised have typically held a role of
being exploited for their labor, their value has been
equally determined both by what they could do, and
by what they could not. As Patricia Hill Collins
points out, the subject/object gain their meaning
only in relation to their difference from their
oppositional counterparts [7]. Put simply, black value
has come to be derived equally from its barring, as
the exclusion of blackness marks a space in which
whiteness remains the unchallenged default.
However, let me be clear, this is not to say that
gaming and esports industries are recreating facets of
slavery, I am simply stating that in the defining of a
body which is profitable, there is undeniably a
connection to the ways we have come to define and
interact with labor, capital, and the black body in a
system of neoliberal capitalism. This then means that
the value of the black body, even within esports, is
shaped by neoliberal logics which seeks only to
extract value, and this is one of the very reasons why
black bodies are virtually absent from PC esports. For
you see if the black body is not profitable, then it
becomes unnecessary in the industry of esports.
While, this may seem contradictory to the typical
logics of black labor extraction, it is important to note
that black absence, even inadvertently, is just as
In my gesturing towards the black body it is
important to note that I do not simply mean the
physical. Blackness is not something that is merely
corporeal but is at the same time something cultural,
social, and abstract. Within the confines of
capitalism, the constructions of what is perceived to
be blackness or black can be just as real as the flesh
itself. Building upon Fanon, Harvey Young make us
privy to this by writing: when popular connotations
of blackness are mapped across or internalized within
black people, the result is the creation of the black
body. This second body, an abstracted and imagined
figure, shadows or doubles the real one. It is the
black body and not a particular, flesh-and-blood body
that is the target of a racializing projection” [20].
Thus, the exclusion of black bodies or more
specifically black players from esports is not just an
exclusion of the physical but of the very notion of
blackness itself. In doing this, the profitable esports
body is demarcated by lines of color which solidify
the walls of exclusion.
However, while the relationship between black
people and emergent technologies within the U.S
have not always been altruistic, I do not believe that
the PC esports industry is deliberately choosing to
exclude black players. After all, the Fighting Game
Community (FGC) has an abundance of black and
brown players, most notably Dominique McLean or
Sonic Fox who was named ESPN’s 2018 esports
player of the year. However, deliberate or not there is
an undeniable shaping of a PC esports identity which
while not actively excluding black players, does little
to bring them into the fold. This is because while
black players could possibly bring revenue into the
PC esports scene, it is by far more profitable (at this
point) to maintain the status quo. There are both
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structural and cultural barriers such as the high cost
of gaming PC systems, the lack of public facilities,
and the issue that PC gaming suffers from a stigma of
being an exclusively white and Asian space [18]. But
there is often the overlooked aspect of whose labor
gets valued even when that labor, is a labor of play.
3. Meritocracy and Race
While I have discussed the aspects of labor and
industry which have come to devalue the presence of
black players in esports, I feel it necessary to discuss
the many ways in which this cycle is perpetuated. For
you see, up until now I have been writing towards the
neoliberal logics which guide the industry today, but,
profit and exploitation while salient, cannot explain
the dearth of prominent black figures alone. After all,
it is this very focus on profit which serves to recreate
these rigid identities and while I find it important to
critique these mechanisms of capitalism, I do not
want to lock them into rigid theory and definition.
Thus, I wish to build upon my previous argument by
transitioning into the second aspect of this piece,
merit and skill. There has been much work done on
both the topics of merit and meritocracy since its
original usage in the work of Michael Youngs The
Rise of Meritocracy [1]. And, while much of the
work covers broad topics there is value in analyzing
this trend in consideration of esports and gaming.
Building upon the work of Stephen J. McNamee and
Robert K. Millers Jrs The Meritocracy Myth I wish
to make an argument for the ways in which merit and
by extension skill come to shape the logics of players
and esports. Within the work both authors take great
care to describe how the American consciousness has
come to be shaped by ideas of the American dream
and merit. Stating that the popular perception in
America is that those who are made of the right stuff
are the cream of the crop that rises to the top,
whereas the dregs fall to the bottom and there is an
analogous belief within esports [13].
This popular myth made vogue since the rags to
riches stories of Horatio Alger (and likely long
before) has come to reappear within the esports
milieu like a bad rash [21]. Take again, Miller’s
Hearthstone case which was an undeniable indication
of racism in the industry, yet there are still those who
claim there is no such issue, as the realm of
professional esports is not one dominated by race, but
instead by the laws of merit and skill. Put simply, in
the supposed colorblind world of gaming,
professionals are not chosen by color but instead by
skill. Skill” comes to function not just as a tool of
measure, but as a means to ensure unbiased play. For
in theory, skill is meant to operate as the great
equalizer, providing everyone an equal opportunity
to make it big. However, like labor, skill hardly
functions as just a means to decide who is and is not
worthy of being a pro. More often than not, skill
like merit is a wrapping of social and economic
practices which, while requiring a player to have the
ability to play well, entails far more than just playing
a game. For you see, it requires a large amount of
time, money and resources to maintain the “skill” of
a professional within the U.S. One’s skill is not
entirely dependent on one’s work ethic or natural
talents and is heavily influenced by the resources
and opportunities available [13]. This is clear as
many players who wish to become pro typically
subject themselves to grueling practice routines
where players like Elijah Galleger an Overwatch pro
plays an average of 10 hours a day [10]. Additionally,
since the recruitment of professional players is
typically done through smaller tournaments and
established social networks, “skill” is just as
dependent on one’s ability to navigate intricate social
webs of teams, recruiters, and media coverage. In this
way “skill” constitutes much more than just playing
the game, as skill no longer functions as a simple
meter for one’s ability and instead comes to
encompass the life and practices which go into being
a pro. So, to claim one only needs skill to reach the
pinnacle of professional gaming, is to ignore the
many intricacies that makes such a task happen.
This leads directly into the issues of diversity in
esports, as skill comes to be a powerful tool to silence
those who speak out about diversity in esports. One’s
value within the community is often tied to their
ability to play, thus skill can operate as powerful
riposte to those who make complaints. This is not to
say professionals are not skilled, nor am I arguing
that we should lower the expectation for those at the
competitive level. However, I am urging us to engage
in how we define skill and realize what it helps to
mask. For instance, the phrase “Git Gud”, which
simply functions as a taunt to those who lack skill,
can be used as a statement to wave off those who
worry about diversity within play. As legal scholar
Anne Lawton points out this focus on individual
failings or in this case an inability to perform is at the
centerpiece of the meritocracy myth [12]. Thus,
most conversation which attempts to point out the
lack of diversity or any other societal issue is often
negated by one’s ability or inability to perform.
Additionally, skill in the hands of less savory
individuals can also serve as sanction for many to
speak and perform in deleterious ways as one can feel
emboldened (even entitled) to say and do anything
they feel because they are good enough. In this way
skill then becomes the currency through which
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players engage and ones opinions, contributions, and
at times personhood is defined by such. However, the
usage of skill is not all bad.
As a gamer, I know the value of being able to
perform well within a game, especially since I and
many other black players take pride in our ability to
play videogames. After all, it is these very skills
which function as a defense against the racism many
of us experience within gaming, as what better way
to prove you belong than to beat the players claiming
you don’t. This very phenomenon has in fact been
pointed out within the work of Kishonna Gray where
many of her own interlocutors found solace in
knowing that their skill was enough to earn them a
right to play, with one of her black lesbian
interlocutors even going as far to say, “They can’t
beat me, they can’t hurt me” [9]. For people of color
a focus on skill can function as both a form of
validation and resistance for many who feel
inundated by seemingly endless waves of harassment.
But, as powerful as this act is, skill can only do so
much to assuage the discriminatory trends which
plague esports. This is because “skill” comes to be
racialized in association to those who are most
apparent in esports, and this disavowal of race in
favor of skill is another way blackness, and by
extension black players are made invisible.
Tanner Higgins provides us with a powerful
theoretical platform in which to analyze this through
his article, Blackless Fantasy. In which by discussing
the lack of black people and culture within Massive
Multi-player online games, Higgins is able to provide
key insight into how blackness becomes exiled.
Within his article Higgins states “the omission of
Black characters from the discourse devalues the
potential of video games to provide productive racial
experiences because they reinforce dominant notions
of Blacks as incapable of being functional members
of society [11]. In a similar fashion to games, the
exclusion of Black players from esports both
recreates and reinforces the boundaries which
excluded them, and skill and labor are just two of
these boundaries. For it is through this focus on
specific types of skills and labor which we find the
exclusion of black players. This culminates into my
main argument as skill or an ability to play games
is not missing. Rather, a call for skill is a means to
block players who do not have access to the resources
needed for both the game and the community around
it. Git Gud then is at best a condemning of a player to
assimilate to the specific cultures of a game and at
worst a shaming for those who cannot access the
resources necessary to assimilate in the first place.
4. The Black Homo Oeconomicus and the
Identity of a Player
Throughout this piece I have gone to great lengths
to build a theoretical foundation for the exclusion of
black people in PC esports. By discussing the
establishment of an esports labor identity which
inadvertently excludes the black body due to its focus
on profit and maintained by the implication of a
specific form of skillI have come to note just a few
ways in which black players are kept from entering
the professional PC esports scene. However, while
there is much more to discuss pertaining these ideas,
it is necessary to elaborate on how these conceptions
come to form the black player. This is because while
black players are excluded from the industrythey
are still very much shaped by its practices. As Frantz
Fanon made the realization of his racial multiplicity
on that fated train ride so too, have many black
players within gaming spaces come to realize the
effects of their blackness [4]. While I have made
clear in previous sections the ways in which the
gaming industry and esports by extension have come
to view the players through a neoliberal logic. I feel it
necessary to now discuss the ways in which the
players come to view themselves.
This is important as no one within a system
simply sees themselves as a product of that system,
and to claim such would be to reduce the beauty of
freewill. Yet, at the same time one cannot ignore the
ways in which these systems force us to change and
adapt, and thus we must turn our attention directly to
the player. But, how does one begin to explain the
effects of such an intricate system? While, there is no
easy way to do this, a productive place to begin
would be through the examination of the ways in
which players shape themselves amongst the
capitalist logics. This is because while esports
professionals are venerated for their skill and ability,
they are consistently walking a tight rope of both
laborer and product as they must simultaneously
perform at a competitive level, while avoiding the
precarities of digital labor. In this way, players must
both conform and construct an identity which is both
suitable and productive within the gaming scene and
this can be seen heavily within the streaming
practices of professionals as streaming has become a
critical component of a longer career, pointing out
that the actual life of tournament competition is
finite [18]. In this way, a player must learn to build
an “exploitable identity” lest they find themselves no
longer needed in the grinding gears of the industry,
and it is this fact which guides the construction of
this identity.
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To further explore this, we may turn to the notion
of homo ocenomicus. Building off Foucault,
Wendy Brown develops this term as: “when the
neoliberal man comes to the market, being for
himself his own capital, his own producer, the source
of his earnings.Whether he is selling, making, or
consuming, he is investing in himself and producing
his own satisfaction [3]. Homo oeconomicus then, is
man made by neoliberal logics, a person by which
value is derived through their own labor, and a
person who is then exploitable through such labor. It
is here where we begin to understand the mentality of
professional players; as to survive in the industry
players must become homo oeconomicus suprema”
or homo oeconomicus supreme. This is pointed out
through the many ways in which professional players
must remain relevant to their teams, fans, and games,
and must contort themselves into the many forms the
industry requires to remain prominent. By streaming,
competing, practicing and living a life consumed by
the world of gaming, players transform themselves
into both a sellable product and a powerful producer.
There is an irony here that players who engage
with material products are then made to be products
themselves, but how does this selling of oneself come
to shape the player, and more specifically how does it
come to shape blackness? Illana Gershon points out
that: Under earlier forms of capitalism, according to
MacPherson’s 1962 account of possessive
individualism, one understood one’s relationship to
oneself in terms of landed propertyone owned
one’s self as though one’s body and capacities could
be treated metaphorically as property to be rented (in
practice) as labor for certain amounts of time. As a
consequence, the contract between employer and
worker involved metaphorically leasing the body and
its capacities for a certain period of time each day. By
contrast, under neoliberal capitalism, one owns
oneself as though one is a business, a collection of
skills, assets, and alliances that must be continually
maintained and enhanced.
This is a reality black people have known for far
too long, as being black in a neoliberal society has
often resulted in playing a constant game of catch up.
What is consistently marked as the standard has
often been made to be a constantly shifting bar in
which black people are judged against. In this way,
black individuals have consistently needed to adapt
and change one’s skillset (as Gershon points out) in
order to survive in America, and thus have been
rendered neoliberal bodies. To quote Lester K.
Spence, “we have always had to hustle [16].
Through the creation of a black homo oeconomicus,
black people have found new ways to both create and
find purpose for their labor. And, while this is
problematic in it of itself as conforming to western
neoliberal ideologies often recreates the same
structural issues, it is here where we see the final
reason for the lack of black players in esports. This is
because becoming profitable in one way does not
guarantee success in other, and as stated before,
because there is no value in black labor within
esports, there is little reason for black people to join.
At issue here is that black people are more likely
to engage and show interest in spaces which provide
satisfaction and esteem. And, while the history of
black labor displays many of us working in less than
favorable environments, this comes often out of
necessity. Thus, a space like PC esports which is
already gated by high price, racist environments, and
a conflation of work and play, esports can seems like
a less than viable option. This is of course, not to say
that black people do not love PC esports games, in
fact, as Taylor points out from DiSalvos, research
“African and Hispanic American youth are more
likely to play digital games than are Caucasian
American youth” [17]. I am simply pointing out that
in a space where there is little representation and the
“skill” level, provides both a technical and
socioeconomical barrier, there seems little chance
that black players will succeed, or for that matter,
would want too. This may also explain why the FGC
has so much diversity, as not only is it significantly
cheaper to gain access to this space, black players
have also had a much better reception (although this
is not saying much) within the FGC. And, while the
FGC is a far more precarious esports industry with
less sponsoring and smaller prize pools, it at least
provides black players with an instance of small
racial diversity despite its many faults of gender
discrimination. Thus, if more black players are to be
seen within the pc esports industry, there must be a
reimagining of how we view both digital labor and
blackness within such, only then may we find a
5. Conclusion
While I have conveyed that the lack of black
players in esports is due to a complicated
entanglement of capital and culture. I would be
remiss if I did not mention that this additionally
stems from the ways in which we view aspects of
labor and play. While most forms of digital labor
suffer from high levels of precarity, low unionization,
and a belittlement that stems from the viewing of the
digital or virtual, as less real. There, is undeniable an
additional stigma placed upon the esports industry for
their focus on play. This is of course, a rampant
problem within the domain of most sports, as the line
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which defines work and play are tenuous at best. This
battle of play/leisure and work adds an additional
level of complexity to the industry. And, while my
focus has been on this complexity in relations to
black PC esports players, one cannot undermine the
ways in which “play” has come to affect the ways in
which we view both physical and esports labor. I
mention this not to attach the digital to that of the
physical, but to mark that there is both a historical
and ideological connection in the ways we have
engaged sports and labor.
Additionally, while my arguments have pushed
for an examination of diversity (or the lack thereof)
within esports. It is important to note that while
diversity is important especially when it comes to
aspects of representation, it is but one of the many
issues at play when analyzing race and esports.
Afterall, rarely has diversity alone solved the
problem of racism and inequality, and quite often
diversity is only achieved when people of color learn
to play by the rulebook of those in charge, effectively
changing very little [21]. This is a powerful
implication which may very well serve as the impetus
for future research but lies just at the periphery of the
focus of this paper. Thus, in conclusion through my
analysis of play, labor, skill, and identity I have
provided but a few answers to an ongoing and
prominent problem. There is indeed a place for me to
reevaluate the changing trends of esports companies,
as entities such as Blizzard and Riot have started to
take notice to this prolific issue. And, while, I am
unsure if this problem is near a resolution, with the
continued proliferation of digital technologies, I am
optimistic that it will be assuaged. However, this
cannot be done unless both companies (in their
history of passivity) and players come to understand
that equality in gaming is not a problem which cannot
be changed without engagement. Thus, I end this
analysis with high spirits that it will provide even a
small group with a deeper understanding of black
identity in esports.
6. References
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... These and many other studies (e.g., Gray, 2020;Groen, 2013;Ruotsalainen & Friman, 2018;Ruvalcaba et al., 2018;Siutila & Havaste, 2019;Witkowski, 2018) highlight the systematic nature of discrimination and harassment targeted at women, persons of color, and participants representing gender and sexual minorities in esports, and demonstrate the cultural structures and practices leading to exclusion of these marginalized player groups. Despite this, there is a culture of toxic meritocracy (Paul, 2018) in esports, an underlying false belief that everyone, despite their background, has an equal chance to succeed solely based on their skill and dedication (Fletcher, 2020;Friman & Ruotsalainen, 2022;Ruotsalainen & Friman, 2018;Siutila & Havaste, 2019;Taylor & Stout, 2020). ...
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A preeminent sociologist of race explains a groundbreaking new framework for understanding racial inequality, challenging both conservative and liberal dogma.In this timely and provocative contribution to the American discourse on race, William Julius Wilson applies an exciting new analytic framework to three politically fraught social problems: the persistence of the inner-city ghetto, the plight of low-skilled black males, and the fragmentation of the African American family. Though the discussion of racial inequality is typically ideologically polarized. Wilson dares to consider both institutional and cultural factors as causes of the persistence of racial inequality. He reaches the controversial conclusion that while structural and cultural forces are inextricably linked, public policy can only change the racial status quo by reforming the institutions that reinforce it.
In the contemporary U.S. workplace, corporate personhood is increasingly becoming the metaphor structuring how job seekers are supposed to present themselves as employable. If one takes oneself to be a business, one should also take oneself to be an entity that requires a brand. Some ethnographic questions arise when job seekers try to embody corporate personhood. How does one transform oneself into a brand? What are the obstacles that a person encounters adopting a form of corporate personhood? How does one foster relationships or networks that will lead to a job, not just a circulation of one's brand identity? Based on research in Indiana and northern California, this article explores the conundrums of marketing oneself as a desirable employee on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email, and so on. I address the reasons why the increased use of social media contributes to popularizing a notion of self-branding. I also discuss the quandaries people face when using social media to create this self-brand. In sum, this article investigates the obstacles people face when they try to embody a form of corporate personhood across media, a form of self putatively based on the individual, but one that has been transformed into a corporate form that people can not easily inhabit.